The Nigerian Labour Movement has called for the reinstatement of the 200 sacked workers of the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) made the call on Thursday in Abuja when unions picketed the Headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja.
The unions gave notice of their intention to occupy the ministry over non-removal of Dr Angela Uwakem, the indicted Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC President said that the workers were sacked for being the whistleblowers of the alleged corrupt practices of Dr Uwakem.
“We must protect these poor workers; over 200 workers, who were the whistleblowers, are being denied their salaries.
“Their names have been removed from the payroll of Federal Medical Centre Owerri by IPPIS and they are the same people that are going to testify in the court against the accused.
“The document has made it very clear they are the same workers who reported the case; investigation has been carried out and Dr Uwakem has been charged to court.
“So, we will occupy this office until the Federal Government intervenes in the issue and removes the CMD of the Federal Medical Centre in Owerri,” he said.
Wabba said that the Federal Executive Council had passed into law a policy that whistleblowers must be protected.
The NLC President said that the reverse was the case and that the whistleblowers had continued to suffer for revealing corrupt practices in the country.
According to him, in the University of Agriculture Abeokuta, the same thing happened to some staff of Senior Staff Association of Universities.
“They raised a fundamental issue and the Vice Chancellor has been charged to court; yet, those who were the whistleblowers have also been exited from the job.
“How can we, as a country, continue like this? We must continue to stand by our colleagues and we must not be deterred in reporting corrupt cases,” he said.
He called on the Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehinare, who oversees the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri to do the needful.
“Your action in reinstating Dr Uwakem is in flagrant violation of the Public Service Rule 030406. So we demand justice, we demand that the fight against corruption must be total.
“We demand that the state Minister of Health should resign because he is contradicting the law.
“So we are calling on him to release the file on the recommendations in the report against the CMD.
“But if he continues to sit on the file, we will also continue to occupy his office because the right thing must be done,” he said.
For his part, Mr Boboi Kaigama, TUC President called on the Federal Government to ensure that whistleblowers are protected in the country.
“Today we stand to march against corruption; we started this sometime in October 2016.
“We are also going to declare another day to work against corruption; that will be on Feb. 7.
“Corruption has eaten deep into our system and we will not keep quiet about it anymore.
“Our colleagues must be reinstated by on the payroll of the Ministry of Health and we are calling for the resignation of the Minister of State for Health.
“Why is he covering up the corruption and why has there been no serious action on his part?” he questioned.
Kaigama said Labour movement would continue to fight corruption in all its ramifications in the country.
Also speaking, Mr Josiah Biobelemoye, President, Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), said the rumour that the President had anything to do with the CMD’s continued stay in office was untrue.
“We have found out that it is not true; Mr President is not even involved in any way with the whole issue concerning Dr Uwakem.
“The rules must be obeyed if we all want the Federal Ministry of Health to succeed in the fight against corruption in the Public Service,” Biobelemoye said.