By Henry Ojelu
The Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law, NBA-SPIDEL, Dr. Monday Ubani has said that he will not hesitate to drag the federal government to court if it goes ahead to enforce the directive on compulsory vaccination for civil servants in the country.
Recall that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation/Chairman Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19, Mr Boss Mustapha had last week announced that all civil servants in Nigeria shall with effect from December 1, 2021 show proof of vaccination or present a negative Covid-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours to gain access to their various offices within Nigeria and Missions abroad.
Describing the directive as insensitive, Ubani stated that compulsory vaccination violates the existing labour terms and the fundamental rights of the civil servants to their privacy, life, movement, religious belief and faith, and liberty.
According to Ubani, “Any directive on compulsory vaccination is immature, needless, unacceptable and should be totally rejected.
“The punishment of denial of access to office by the directive is a clear violation of the contractual terms of employment, and secondly a restriction to freedom of liberty and movement guaranteed under chapter 4 of the 1999 constitution as amended, Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
“When these civil servants were employed, compulsory vaccinations and its attendant punishment for non compliance were not part of their terms of contract.
“This new policy is a rude interruption to cordial labour relationship and is against international best labour practices.
“The Federal Government is hereby put on notice that any intention to pursue this illegal policy will be met with stiff legal challenge.”
Ubani further noted that in the absence of any substantive legislation that makes Covid-19 vaccination compulsory, such policy directive which would invariably take away guaranteed rights, is illogical, unlawful, null and void.
Ubani also insisted that the best policy for the country remains that the citizens be not allowed to lower the guard in preventive measures in dealing with the pandemic.
He said: “As the government have failed to concretely convince the citizens on the issue of health, safety and bodily harm of this vaccination, they are advised to desist from pursuing their present policy that is in collision course with the bodily integrity of the citizens.
“They should rather utilise persuasive methodology to get citizens convinced of the benefits of the said vaccinations but most importantly, they are advised to pursue free education, free health policies and other social welfare policies and make them compulsory for the citizens which will in turn attract accolades for the government.”