House of Reps direct FG to reinstate sacked MD of Neuropsychiatric Hospital Enugu

 

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions has directed the Federal Ministry of Health to reinstate Professor Monday Igwe as the Medical Director of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu.

The committee gave the directive, in its ruling on a petition brought before the House by Igwe against the Federal Ministry of Health and Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu challenging his removal as the chief executive of the institution.

The committee after listening to all the parties, said the that President Bola Tinubu was misled to have replaced Igwe as the Medical Director of the hospital.

Consequently, Chairman of the Committee, Mike Ataba, declared: “We don’t need to call the Honourable Minister of State for Health. Mr President has been misled for him to replace this man (Igwe). And the House’s position is that this man be reinstated back to his duties and that will be our recommendation to the floor.”

Igwe, in his petition had contended that his suspension and subsequent termination of his appointment did not follow laid down procedure.

Therefore, he prayed the legislature to declare his suspension and termination of his appointment illegal and direct that he be reinstated.

Testifying before the committee, the embattled medical expert explained that he was appointed as medical director for the second and final term with effect from April 1, 2023.

“Around September, there were frivolous allegations and petitions from the acting principal of the school and some social media information that was misleading and not true. For example, he claimed that the School of of Nursing was closed and that I was responsible for that.

“Then on 5/9/2023, the Federal Ministry of Health gave me a query to respond to the allegations of closing the school. The school was not closed, it was the Nursing and Midwifery Council that withdrew their accreditation. So, I didn’t close the school.

“I responded on 8th of September. I was expecting that I would be called for fair hearing. On 20th of September, I got a suspension letter without any recourse to me to explain what I had written as response to the query. And it was very unfair. I wasn’t given fair hearing and the suspension was indefinite. And in public service, there is nothing like indefinite suspension. It’s either you suspend somebody for three months or for six months. But I was suspended indefinitely,” he narrated.

Also, the counsel to the petitioner, Micheal Okolo, told the panel that the action of the Hearth Ministry “including the suspension and termination did not follow the laid down procedure in the circular from the SGF.”

He added that “disciplinary procedure against chief executives of federal parastatals should follow certain procedures, that any action in respect of suspension should be routed through the Office of the SGF to the President. It is Mr President that will take a decision about the suspension or termination of the appointment of a chief executive officer. But in this case, they did not follow the procedure.”

However, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Daju Kachollom, in her response, said the suspension and subsequent termination of Igwe’s appointment as the MD of the the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu was in accordance with extant rules.

She explained that Igwe was suspended based on a petition from the institution. According to her, after his three months suspension elapsed, it was further extended for another three months before his eventual sack.

Nevertheless, the lawmakers observed that Igwe’s appointment was terminated after he was issued only one query; and that the Ministry of Health disregarded the recommendations of a 7-man panel, which recommended the reinstatement of the latter.

Therefore, they insisted that Kachollom should furnish the Committee with the rules the Ministry of Health relied on in terminating Igwe’s appointment.

Intervening, one of the lawmakers, Fred Agbedi, said: “Chairman, tell PS to refer us to the rules. We are talking of rules. Nobody can talk on his own when it comes to running government. Take us to the rules that says for whatever offence, three months suspension. Tell us the rules that you also have the power after the three months to also extend the suspension for another three months. Refer us to the rules.”

However, the Permanent Secretary responded that “as I sit here Honourable Chairman, with deep respect to the House, everything that I did, was based on the procedure. I might not have the commission’s guidelines here, but what we did was based on disciplinary procedure.”

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