Chris Steven, Abuja
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said that its members would from January 26, 2017 start to occupy the office of the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehamire following what the Congress called his failure to remove the the indicted Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Dr. Angela Uwakem.
The Congress in a letter addressed to the Minister , a copy of which was obtained by The Post on Thursday lamented the inaction of the office of the Minister in respect of its respect for the removal of Dr. Uwakem after her indictment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) over allegation of corruption.
According to the letter, NLC noted that Dr. Uwakem was sent on suspension on July 29, 2015, following allegations of acts of serious corruption, to enable unfiltered investigation.
It said the EFCC at the end of its investigation established a prima facie case of corruption against the Medical Director and arraigned her before the State High Court in Owerri on October 11, 2016 noting however that the case was shifted to November 15, 2016 following the absence of the presiding judge during the October court date.
“We were completely taken by surprise that against all extant laws of the civil service, as the supervising minister in charge of Federal Medical Centers across the Country, you order Dr. Uwakem’s reinstatement using the police. This action of yours we strongly believe negates the spirit of the well-known anti-corruption disposition of the government you are serving.
Honorable Minister Sir, your action in reinstating Dr Uwakem is in flagrant violation of the Public Service Rule 030406, which states inter alia:
“it shall apply where a prima facie case, the nature of which is serious, has been established against an officer and it is considered necessary
in public interest that he/she should forthwith be prohibited from carrying out his/her duties. Pending investigation into the misconduct, The Federal Civil Service Commission or the Permanent Secretary/ Head of Extra-Ministerial office (if within his/her delegated powers) shall forthwith suspend him/her from the exercise of the powers and functions of his/her office from the enjoyment of his/her emolument”.
Honorable Minister Sir, you probably also know that the first thing Dr. Uwakem did upon your giving her the all clear signal to resume work, was to issue queries to the whistle blowers who had caused her investigation and arraignment. Again this is directly against the decision of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), of which you are a member, to reward whistle blowers and protect them.
In December, the Honorable Minister of Health, in charge of your ministry in correspondence with the Executive Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, stated that the permanent secretary of the ministry has been directed to invoke the relevant sections of the Federal Civil Service Rules with immediate effect, and that as one directly overseeing the Federal Medical Centre, you were handling the matter.” The Congress said
It lamented that its members who were the whistle blowers in the case were already being victimized and unprotected by the vindictive actions of the indicated Medical Director.
“We have therefore decided that in order to assist you to make up your mind to do the right thing without further delay, we will be your guest from 26th January 2017, until the extant Public service Rule(s) is applied on the MD of the Federal Medical Centre Owerri.
Honorable Minister Sir, please accept this letter as a Notice to Occupy your office by Nigerian workers until you chose to do the right thing in this case.” It said
Meanwhile, the labour umbrella body also called the attention of Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun to the plight of Federal Judicial Officers and Staff, whose salaries the Federal Government did not pay in the month of December, 2016.
It called on the Minister to urgently approve the payment of the withheld salary of Federal Judicial workers.
“Given the sensitive nature of the work of judicial officers and staff, and as a separate arm of Government, one cannot stress enough the importance of the Judiciary in the present dispensation and the efforts of Mr. President to bring about change in our national life and root out corruption from our society.
The efforts of the current administration to cleanse our polity of the scourge of corruption will be seriously impaired when those in the frontline that can make all the difference in this campaign are inelegantly treated.
Madam Honourable Minister, we need not point to the current economic hardship occasioned by the recession to show the importance workers attach to their wage payment as and when due. It is even more critical in this season during which workers are expected by their family members to pick not just bills of the festivities, but even more the payment of other important bills such as the school fees of their children etc.
Given the commendable role played by Mr. President in defraying part of the backlog of salaries owed by many State Governments, it will be unfortunate if this ugly trend of non-payment of salaries to public officers, is allowed to manifest at the federal level.” NLC said
Chris Steven, Abuja