Last week, we took a look at the conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19, Bill Gates and his microchip vaccine, which some people believe to be the “mark of the beast” in Revelation 13: 16-18. We saw how the virus has been forcefully magnified into Nigeria in the form of Quarantine Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2020, a monstrous and Mephistophelian bill. Today, we shall conclude on the satanic verses in some sections of the bill; and, the invalidity and nullity of the entire proposed bill. My conclusion? Kill the bill before it kills us.
Satanic verses in most sections of the bill
Freedom of assembly, association and movement
Closely related to the damnable provisions of section 16, 17 and 19 of the bill is section 13, which also empowers the DG to arrest and detain, for as long as he desires, any person whom he suspects to have an infectious disease, or to have recovered from one. This, based on mere suspicion (not proof) and without any warrant or order of a court. Sections 13, 16 and 17 flagrantly contravene the provisions of sections 40 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution, which grants citizens freedom to assemble and associate, and to move freely and reside in any part of Nigeria. In OKAFOR & ORS V. NTOKA & ORS (2017) LPELR-42794 (CA), Ogunwumiju J.C.A. held:
“Section 41 provides that every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereto or exit therefrom.”
Similarly, in AG & COMMISSIONER OF JUSTICE, KEBBI STATE V. JOKOLO & ORS (2013) LPELR-22349 (CA) p. 78, paras. B-E, Akomolafe-Wilson J.C.A. pronounced:
“By virtue of the provisions of section 41 of the 1999 Constitution and Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. A-G, Laws of the Federation, 2004, freedom of movement of every Nigerian consists of freedom within Nigeria and freedom of exit from Nigeria.”
Right to privacy and liberty of choice
The 1999 Constitution has provisions such as section 37, which guarantees citizens their privacy, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications; and section 34(1) which guarantees every individual “respect for dignity of his person”. Contrary to these inalienable rights, sections 5(3) and 6 of the diabolical bill empowers the DG to forcefully take blood or other samples from any person for purposes of public health surveillance. Indeed, section 8 adds salt onto the injury, by making it compulsory for health personnel treating any patient of infectious disease to release to the DG his patient’s medical details and records. Gosh! This is in clear breach of the “uberima fidei” (utmost good faith) confidential relationship between a health worker and his patient; between a banker and his customer; between a clergy and his flock; and between a lawyer and his client. In MEDICAL AND DENTAL PRACTITIONERS’ DISCIPLINARY TRIBUNAL V. OKONKWO (2001) FWLR (Pt 44) 542, Uwaifo held that:
“Under normal circumstances, no medical doctor can forcibly proceed to apply treatment to a patient of full and sane faculty without the patient’s consent, particularly if that treatment is of radical nature…So, the doctor must ensure that there is a valid consent and that he does nothing that will amount to the trespass to the patient”.
Furthermore, in TEGA ESABUNOR & ANOR V. DR. TUNDE FAWEYA & ORS LER  SC.97/2009, the Supreme Court, per Rhodes-Vivour, J.S.C. held:
“All adults have that liberty of choice. This freedom has been exercised in accordance with the rule of law (see section 45(1)(b) of the Constitution). All adults have the inalienable right to make and to assume the consequences…It is long settled that an adult who is conscious and in full control of his mental capacity, and of sound mind has the right to either accept or refuse blood (medical treatment).”
As if these fiendish provisions were not enough, anyone in breach of these forced rules is guilty of an offence and is liable to certain prescribed penalties. Guess what! Section 9 of the bill criminalises the voluntary donation of blood, which is tainted with alleged misleading or misinformation. I ask, which Nigerian will now agree to donate blood to patients in hospitals when every blood donor is a potential suspect? Perhaps, the most dangerous aspects of the bill are sections 30 and 47. Section 30 makes vaccination of every Nigerian compulsory, to qualify to enter or exit Nigeria. And by section 47, the DG can compel compulsory vaccination of any person during a real outbreak or suspected outbreak. This is contrary to the freedom to liberty of choice, as seen above in MEDICAL AND DENTAL PRACTITIONERS’ DISCIPLINARY TRIBUNAL V. OKONKWO (supra) and TEGA ESABUNOR & ANOR V. DR. TUNDE FAWEYA & ORS LER (supra).
Kill this bill before it kills us all
This bill is a sick bill. It is ill-intended. It is malformed from conception. It is malignant. It is tumorous. It seeks to give the Minister of Health and DG of NCDC, untrammelled powers (in a democracy), to trample on the fundamental rights of Nigerians with impunity. These powers are corrosive. They will and must surely be abused because of their arbitrariness, capriciousness, whimsicality and the lack of inbuilt checks and balances.
Right to dignity of the human person
Even the powers of the federating units (states and LGAs) are subsumed under this totalitarian, fascist and absolutist bill that seeks to treat Nigerians like animals, without any form of dignity. In BASSEY & ANOR V. AKPAN & ORS (2018) LPELR-44341 (CA), Adah, J.C.A., declared that:
“The right to dignity of human person, under section 34 of the Constitution is not a nebulous one. The Constitution is clear on what it entails – every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly, no person shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or to degrading treatment, no person shall be held in slavery or servitude and no person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.”
See also the case of OKONKWO V. EZEONU & ORS (2017) LPELR-42785 (CA).
Access to court is a right
The bill even dares to bar access to court by declaring the decision of the DG on any appeal by any aggrieved person as final. No law can restrict access to court. Such a law will be struck down. See the case of AG, BENDEL STATE V. AG, FEDERATION (1982) 3 NCLR 1, p 88, where Obaseki JSC pronounced:
“The Constitution has opened the gates to the courts by its provisions and there can be no justifiable reason for closing the gates against those who do not want to be governed by a law enacted not in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.”
Similarly, in BAKARE V. AG, FEDERATION (1990) 9 SCNJ 43, the Supreme Court held with finality:
“By virtue of sections 6(6)(b) and 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution, a person was vested with the unabridged right of access to a court established under the Constitution for the determination of his civil rights and obligations. Thus, the right of access to court is a constitutional right guaranteed in the Constitution and no law can subtract from or derogate from it or deny any person of it and such law will be declared a nullity by virtue of section 1(3) of the Constitution.”
In ENGR. CHARLES UGWU & ANOR. V. SENATOR IFEANYI ARARUME & ANOR. (2007) ALL FWLR (Pt. 377) 807 at 865 (SC), Tobi J.S.C. emphasised:
“Right of access to court is a constitutional right which is guaranteed in the Constitution and no law, including that of a political party, can subtract from or deviate from it or deny any person of it. Such a law will be declared a nullity by virtue of section 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” (underlining supplied for emphasis).
See also the case of BAKARE V. AG, FEDERATION (1990) 9 SCNJ 43.
See also the cases of PORT HARCOURT REFINING COMPANY LTD. V. IMOUH OKORO (2010) LPELR-4861 (CA); UBA PLC V. DANA MOTORS LTD. (2018) LPELR-44101 (CA); ENGR. CHARLES UGWU & ANOR. V. SENATOR IFEANYI ARARUME & ANOR. (2007) ALL FWLR (Pt. 377) 807 at 865, paras G-H (SC).
Supremacy of the Constitution
A Bill which seeks to perform outside the Constitution (the grundnorm; font et origo; supreme law of the land) or any other statute, which gives it effect is subsequently invalid and to be declared a nullity. In BARCLAYS BANK OF NIGERIA LTD. v. ASHIRU & 2 ORS (1978) LPELR-752 (SC), the court emphasized the issue of nullity of bills that seek to function ultra vires (beyond the law). Here, Idigbe, J.S.C. stated that:
“Subordinate legislation is invalid if it is repugnant to the general law of the country or if it is repugnant to the provision of a statute which delegates to the body or person making it, the powers so to do. “It is, however, not bad merely because it deals with something which the general law does not deal with or because it makes unlawful something which the general law does not make unlawful, but it must not, expressly or by necessary implication, profess to alter the general law by making something unlawful which the general law makes lawful, or vice versa, or by adding something inconsistent with the provisions of a statute creating the same offence” (see on the subject of Bye Law: Halsbury Laws of England Vol. 26, 3rd Edition, P. 516 Para 950). Accordingly, subordinate legislation ‘is prima facie ultra vires if it is inconsistent with the substantive provisions of the statute by which the enabling power is conferred” (which is not the case here) “or of any other statute” (which is alleged or submitted to be the case here) “and equally, of course, if it purports to affect existing statutes expressly” (see Volume 36 Halsbury, Laws of England, 3rd Edition, Pages 491-492, Paragraph 743)” (underlining supplied for emphasis).
The bill thus serially and unapologetically offends section 1(1) of the 1999 Constitution, and thus must be killed in its infancy under section 1(3). See, on the supremacy of the Constitution, and invalidity of laws that derogate from it, the following cases: FRN v OMOLOJU OKUNOMO (2010) LPELR-4154 (CA); AG, ABIA STATE v AG, FEDERATION (2006) 16 NWLR (Part 1005) 265 at 381; INEC v MUSA (2003) 3 NWLR (Pt. 806) 72; ABACHA v FAWEHINMI (2000) 4 SC (Pt. 11) 1; AG, ONDO v AG, FEDERATION (2002) 1 NWLR (Pt. 772) 222; BALONWU v GOV. ANAMBRA STATE (2009) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1172) 13; PDP v CPC (2011) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1277) 485, 511.
The bill is a ready recipe and dangerous ammunition in the hands of a non-performing, clueless, rudderless and intolerant government to go after the jugular of the opposition, social critics, rights activist, the civil society and perceived enemies of the government. NASS, kill this monstrous and maniacal bill laden with satanic verses before it kills us all.
Thought for the week
Law in general is human reason, inasmuch as it governs all the inhabitants of the earth: the political and civil laws of each nation ought to be only the particular cases in which human reason is applied.” – Montesquieu