The House of Representatives has said that the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has not stopped it from carrying out its legislative functions in the consideration of the Control of Infectious Diseases bill which has been committed to public hearing.
At its last sitting on Tuesday, the House reversed its decision to consider the bill on the Committee of the Whole and subjected it to a public hearing.
But there have been media reports that following a motion exparte filed by Senator Dino Melaye, the court stopped the House from further considering the bill pending the determination of the suit before it.
Spokesman of the House, Benjamin Kalu, said in a statement on Sunday the reports alleging that the court has stopped further consideration of the bill was meant to mislead the Nigerian people.
In the statement titled “Infectious diseases bill: consideration of the bill has not been halted by the court,” Kalu said rather than grant the prayer stopping the consideration of the bill, the court directed the House to cause an appearance to show reason why the order should not be granted.
While asking the media to always verify orders of court before publication, he said the House were still waiting to be served the court processes as ordered by the court.
The statement reads:
“The House of Representatives notes with dismay the erroneous reports by certain print and online media outfits, in what appears to be wilful or malicious misinterpretations of the decision of the court in suit no FHC/ABJ/CS/463/2020 on 13th May 2020, asserting that a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the House to suspend the ongoing process of the consideration of the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020 (the “Bill”); a misrepresentation of facts which has in turn misled various other media outfits and the general public.
“While the House encourages the public and all media outfits to verify and refer to the certified true copy of the court’s order in all further social commentary or report on the subject matter, it has become necessary to set the record straight.
“The truth of the matter is that although the applicant, by way of a motion exparte, sought a court order suspending the consideration of the Bill by the House, the court in its wisdom and in the interest of justice and fair hearing, declined to grant the reliefs sought by Applicant in order to enable the Respondents in the case to appear before it and enter a defence.
“For the sake of clarity, the crux of the court’s decision in the abovementioned suit is reproduced hereunder, “Upon hearing this Motion Ex-parte as moved by learned counsel to the Applicant and upon careful consideration of the averments in the affidavit in support, Exhibits attached and the written and oral address of learned counsel, the Court is of the view that bearing in mind the weighty averments in the affidavit in support which are intended to stay the Legislative actions of the Respondents in regard to the Bill in disputation and the exigencies of the times (that is to say the COVID-19 pandemic) and the attendant hysteria in the polity, the Court is of the opinion, that it is in the interest of justice to hear the Respondents before making a long term decision in this case.
“It is for this reason that I hereby make an Order mandating the Respondents to appear before this Court on the 20th day of May 2020 to show Cause why the application of the Applicant should not be granted.”
Kalu said it was unfortunate that the purport of the interim order was wrongly reported, adding” the House, therefore, wishes to put the order of the court in proper perspective and state that the act of legislation is a sacred and constitutional responsibility which should not be subjected to flimsy or superficial reportage in the interest of our democracy.