Imo Residents Protest Prolonged Crisis At FMC Owerri

Imo Residents Protest Prolonged Crisis At FMC OwerriConcerned residents have taken to the streets of Owerri, the Imo state capital, to call on various interest groups at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), to give peace a chance.

For over a year, the medical centre has been plunged into what seems to be unending controversy and disagreement between the management and the workers.

The prolonged crisis is over the recall of the medical director of the institution, who the workers say they no longer feel comfortable with.

Now, a group of Imo citizens are intervening in the crisis, calling on all concerned to sheath their sword.

fmc3Leader of the protesters, Mr Princewill Okowe, said the FMC Owerri “was set up for the benefits of the Imo people and not unionists and for over one year, the people that claim to be unionists have made the FMC not to function normally”.

According to o him, “the Federal Medical Centre is the only federal tertiary health institution we have in Imo state”.

“If that centre is messed up, any health challenge at the level of tertiary health care, will mean that the Imolites would have to travel to other states to access tertiary health care and that wouldn’t met with the good welfare of our people,” he stressed.

Financial Misappropriation

The institution’s MD, Mrs Angela Uwakwem, was arraigned by the Economic and Finanacial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on an 18 count charge, bordering on financial misappropriation and embezzlement to the tune of 242 million Naira.

This followed a petition by the (Joint Health Sector Union) JOHESU Of the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri.

Counsel to the EFCC, Mainforce Ekwu, alleged that according to the petition, Mrs Uwakwem, conspired with one Mr Emmanuel Ajayi, to inflate the price of medical equipment bought for the centre.

The accused on the other hand, pleaded not guilty to the 18 count charge leveled against her.

Angela Uwakwem Is FMC Owerri Medical Director, FG Tells Protesters

FMC Owerri, Angela Uwakwem, ProtestersThe Nigerian Government says it has not found the Medical Director at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Owerri, Mrs Angela Uwakwem, guilty of the allegations levelled against her.

The assertion follows series of protest by health workers and labour unions at the health institution against the recall of Mrs Uwakwem as the substantive Medical Director of FMC Owerri after about 10 months of stepping aside.

The directive for her reinstatement was contained in a statement issued by the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.

Dr. Ehanire said the recall of Dr. Uwakwem was with immediate effect, adding that the institution’s management would be supported by staff from the Federal Ministry of Health.

A Presidential Directive

Contrary to the claims of the protesters, the Minister argued that her appointment was a presidential issue and her removal could only be done through a presidential directive.

“Should evidence of misconduct be found against her, Dr. Uwakwem will answer for it and face the law as no person shall be protected from justice.

“Since Dr. Uwakwem’s four-year tenure is valid until 2017 and no evidence of misconduct against her was raised by a Ministerial Fact Finding Commission, the Ministry desires rule of law to prevail over mob action,” he stated.

The reinstated medical director told reporters at the Imo State capital that the tenure of the interim management committee had expired and that she had taken over following the Federal Government’s directive.

She reiterated her commitment to ensuring better delivery of healthcare services to the people of the state in southeast Nigeria.

Uwakwem further called on aggrieved workers to cooperate with her for the development of the centre.

However, the union had staged a protest three days ago where they down-tooled and called on the government to reverse its plans to recall Mrs Uwakwem.

While they vowed not to return to work until their demand was met, security operatives have been detailed to the centre to forestall any breakdown of law and order.

On his part, President of the Association of Resident Doctors in Imo State, Dr. Victor Dike, says they are readily available to carry out their services to the public without interruption.

FMC Owerri Workers Protest MD’s Recall

Resident Doctors, FMC Owerri
They warn that the reinstatement of Dr. Uwakwem will lead to chaos

Workers of the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri have staged a protest over the recall of the former Medical Director, Angela Uwakwem.

Dr. Uwakwem was earlier asked to step aside over allegations of financial misappropriation.

During the protest on Wednesday, which was carried out by a huge number of workers at the Federal Medical Centre in Owerri, the workers maintained that since the former CMD was relieved, there has been peace in the centre.

They added that any attempt to forcefully bring back Dr. Uwakwem will cause chaos in the centre.

Doctors, nurses, and other workers of the institution in July, 2016, held a similar protest saying since the Interim Management Committee was set up by the government to handle the affairs of the centre, there has been normalcy in the medical institution.

A Presidential Directive

Their protests follows the directive by the Federal Ministry of Health to reinstate the suspended Medical Director.

The directive for her reinstatement is contained in a statement issued by the Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Wednesday in Abuja.

Dr. Ehanire in statement said the recall of Dr. Uwakwem is with immediate effect adding that the institution’s management would be supported by staff from the ministry.

Contrary to the claims of the protesters, the minister argued that the appointment of the Medical Director of the centre is a presidential issue and her removal can only be done through a presidential directive.

“Should evidence of misconduct be found against her, Dr Uwakwem will answer for it and face the law as no person shall be protected from justice.

“Since Dr Uwakwem’s 4-year tenure is valid until 2017 and no evidence of misconduct against her was raised by a Ministerial fact finding commission, the Ministry desires rule of law to prevail over mob action,” he said.