Paul Obi in Abuja
The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) and Assembly of Health Care Professionals (AHCP) yesterday petitioned the Presidency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Nigerian Police and others over the decision of the Federal Ministry of Health to reinstate Medical Director of the Owerri Medical Centre (FMC), Dr. Angela Uwakwem.
The health workers who laid siege at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja chanting solidarity songs, carried placards with inscriptions such as ‘Mr. President Rescue FMC Owerri’ ‘Corruption is Killing the Health Sector’ ‘ Corruption Kills, Avoid It’ ‘Reinstatement or Cover Up of Dr. Angela Uwakwem?’.
JOHESU President, Biobelemoye Josiah and National Secretary, Florence Ekpebor while addressing journalists, explained that the reinstatement of Uwakwem was against the extant rules governing the civil service.
According to Josiah, “the Federal Ministry of Health handling of the matter as it affects the conduct of officers in sensitive areas and we wish observed that their acts are in tandem with President Muhammadu Buhari’s posture on corruption and his efforts to stamp out same in our public milieu.
“It is no longer news that FMC Owerri has been embroiled in crisis on corruption by Dr. Uwakwem. This situation led to her suspension and subsequent arraignment at Owerri State High Court II, by the EFCC on charges of corruption related matters.”
The group urged the Presidency and anti-graft agencies to go beyond arraignment and ensure that the Medical Director is stripe of her duty until she clears her name.
They accused the administration of double standard in fighting corruption in the health sector, “as a group suffering this suffocating sleaze at the FMC Owerri, therefore, we wish to place on record that we shall resist the move within the ambit of the law that is already sending signals to the general public that Mr. President’s anti-corruption war is embedded in double standard and that whistle blowers stand the high risk of abandonment.
“We therefore called on Mr. President to as a matter of urgency call the authorities of the Federal Ministry of Health to order. We wish to salute the courage of EFCC in arraigning Dr. Uwakwem and call on them to pursue the case with vigour in the interest of the common man who ultimately bears the burden of these negative acts,” JOHESU stated.
The federal government had through the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole reinstated Uwakwem following the recommendations of a committee set up to investigate the matter. Her reinstatement has continued to elicited uproar and discontent as health workers protest government decision to soft pedal on Uwakwem’s case.