FMC Owerri crisis: JOHESU kicks against “illegal” reinstatement of MD before court pronouncement

Says Labour won’t condone victimisation of members

The Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly of Health Care Professionals (JOHESU) has kicked against the reinstatement of the  embattled Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri, Dr Angela Uwakwem, at a time when her case is before the court.

Following the prolonged crisis that rocked the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri to its foundation and crippled service delivery for about two years; the Federal Government reinstated her and her management team.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, while giving the directive last week, warned all staff members to abide by the decision and support the substantive medical director and her management or resign their appointment, if they cannot obey the directive.

In a swift response, JOHESU said her reinstatement was illegal, because the EFCC that investigated the matter has charged Dr Uwakwem to court, and the case would come up on November 15, for arraignment.

JOHESU National Chairman, Comrade Biobelemoye Josiah, who is also the National President of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), said in the interest of the nation, “Labour will not condone any form of cover up or victimisation of our members who are law abiding.

“She was sent on compulsory leave based on allegations bordering on highhandedness, fraud and outright stealing. It is our view that the best thing to do in the circumstance and in line with the zero tolerance stance of the present government is to interdict or suspend Dr Uwakwem and allow her have her day in court to prove her innocence or otherwise. It is after this that the issue of her reinstatement or dismissal from service would flow naturally from the pronouncement of the court,” Josiah said.

JOHESU chairman alleged that the erstwhile suspended medical director was forcefully reinstated “ostensibly to enable her destroy factual evidence that could be used against her in the on-going criminal proceedings in court.”

He explained that she was charged to court by the EFCC on October 11, 2016, at the State High Court, Owerri on a 17 count charge, but could not be arraigned on that day because of the absence of the judge before the case was adjourned to November 15.

Comrade Josiah alleged that the Minister of State for Health was behind “this clandestine move of her reinstatement despite the prima facie case established against her by the EFCC.”

The union called on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Minister of State for Health to order, and demeaned that the medical director should be suspended and that the appropriate agency of government be directed to investigate the Ministry of Health in the cover up saga.

Comrade Josiah said the union wants to use the opportunity to notify President Buhari on why the Minister of State for Health is in haste to reinstate her rather than wait for the verdict of the court.

He regretted that before the forceful reinstatement, the commissioner of Police in Owerri came to FMC, Owerri and threatened their members that she wouldn’t be coming to reinstate her and whoever try to resist it will be ruthlessly dealt with.

He pointed out that the minister’s warning had also reinforced the commissioner of police statement, adding that the threat by the minister that whoever does not agree should resign or retire is another effort to use intimidation to cow their members.