PRESS STATEMENT RELEASED AT THE END OF EMERGENCY SOUTH EAST CAUCUS MEETING OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RESIDENT DOCTORS WHICH HELD ON 9TH MARCH, 2017 AT THE FEDERAL MEDICAL CENTRE, UMUAHIA
The attention of the South East Caucus of the National Association of Resident Doctors has been drawn to the ungodly incident that took place here in Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, on 23rd February, 2017, where one of our colleagues and the President of the Association, Dr. Orji Innocent was unjustly and unlawfully suspended from residency training, on allegations of professional misconduct. Our colleague was said to have conducted himself unprofessionally on the 16th of February, 2017 which is grossly untrue.
It is on record that the said suspension was not preceded by any query as prescribed by the Public Service Rules, nor any other attempt to obtain his own side of the story. Observing the grave errors in his action, the Medical Director (MD) Dr. Chukwu Abali later issued our colleague a query on 27th February, 2017. By this time he was already grossly incapacitated to make a valuable and evidence-backed response to the query.
This action of the MD clearly contravenes Section 3 of the Public Service Rules of Nigeria, which prescribed a procedure for the handling of cases of alleged misconduct. This section of the rule provides for fair hearing, communicated in writing by the officer upon receipt of a written query.
Section 1 of the same Public Service Rules further stated that these rules apply to all officers except where there is conflict with specific terms approved by the Federal Government and written into the contract of employment or letters of appointment.
Furthermore, the action of the Management of FMC Umuahia also clearly contradicts the fundamental human right of fair hearing, as enshrined in Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The continued disregard of extant laws by the management of our hospitals and various other acts of injustice against doctors working in public hospitals is becoming very worrisome as the toll it exerts on the psyche of doctors in Nigeria is deleterious.
Our colleagues in FMC Umuahia have already commenced indefinite strike action in demand for the reinstatement of their President. This has so far not yielded any results despite the toll the strike action is exacting on the good people of Umuahia in particular and Abia State in general. It is surprising however, why Dr. Chukwu Abali will continue the disruption of services in the hospital despite the obvious negative impact on his immediate society.
As such, we call on the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Health, the Government of Abia State and all Nigerians of good conscience, to join us to impress on the management of FMC Umuahia to immediately reinstate Dr. Orji Innocent. The resolve of the entire doctors in Nigeria is being put to test here, and the principle of injury to one is injury to all, which has remained our unwavering principle, will be called upon once more should the management of FMC Umuahia refuse to reinstate our colleague.
The National Association of Resident Doctors does not condone indiscipline amongst her colleagues and is in no way making an attempt to cover up an erring officer, so far this is established beyond reasonable doubt and all aspects of the law followed as prescribed. In this index case we have our reservations for both the misconduct allegedly committed and worse still the illegal and unlawful dismissal without fair hearing. No one person is above the law in Nigeria.
The South East Caucus of NARD has in this meeting, after unsuccessful attempts to see the Medical Director, Dr. Chuku Abali and the Chairman Medical Advisory Committee, Dr. Chukwuma Innocent, unanimously resolved that failure to reinstate Dr. Orji Innocent immediately, will leave all our colleagues in all the public hospitals in the South East no option but to consider joining the strike action in sympathy for our colleagues in this hospital, in addition to seeking legal action against the Management of FMC Umuahia.
Dr Udu Chijioke Udu
NARD SE Caucus Leader