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SERAP Drags Health Ministry, NCDC To Court Over Failure To Account For COVID-19 Money

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has filed a lawsuit against Osagie Ehanire, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, and Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control over alleged failure to account for public funds and other resources so far spent and used to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
The suit FHC/ABJ/CS/616/2020 was filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday.
SERAP is seeking an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and compel the Minister of Health and the NCDC to publish details of the funds and resources from federal, state governments and the private sector as well as details of how the funds and resources have so far been spent and used to combat COVID-19.
It also wants an order to compel the government to disclose the exact number of tests carried out for high-ranking public officials, the number of such persons in self-isolation or quarantine, as well as the number of tests carried out for the country’s poorest.
According to SERAP, Nigerians have the right to know the details of spending of COVID-19 money as this was essential to the fight against corruption and will foster the development of democratic institutions and rule of law in Nigeria.
The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information requests dated March 27, 2020 to the Minister of Health and the NCDC, stating, “Concern that lack of transparency in the use of the funds and resources to combat COVID-19 would lead to diversion or mismanagement of funds and resources, unnecessarily cost lives, and result in serious damage to public health in the country.”
It noted that millions of Nigerians continue to lack access to an improved water source and to proper sanitation, thereby making them vulnerable to COVID-19 and other illnesses.
The suit filed by SERAP lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare, Atinuke Adejuyigbe and Opeyemi Owolabi, relied on the Freedom of Information Act 2011 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party to take the matter to court.
The body said the government had no legally justifiable reason for refusing to provide SERAP with the information requested.

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Industrial Court orders resident doctors to call off strike

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Industrial Court orders resident doctors to call off strike
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Industrial Court orders resident doctors to call off strike

The National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja has ordered that the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors are restrained from continuing with the ongoing strike pending the determination of the substantive suit before it.

The court, therefore, ordered members of the association nationwide to return to work.

The court held that there is no amount of money that will compensate for the loss of lives in the circumstances.

Justice Bashar Alkali made the order on Friday while ruling on an application by the Federal Government in the suit against NARD.

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Industrial Court orders resident doctors to call off strike

The Federal Government’s lawyer, Tochukwu Maduka (SAN), had moved his motion for interlocutory injunction, and prayed the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendant from continuing with the industrial action pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

He also prayed the court to compel the members of NARD nationwide to return to their duty posts pending the determination of the substantive suit.

He argued that resident doctors as persons who provide essential services cannot embark on strike and continuing to do so will wreck hardship on citizens.

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The resident doctor’s lawyer, Robinson Ariyo, vehemently opposed the application for interlocutory injunction and urged the court to discountenance their application.

He argued that the life of a medical doctor is not less useful than the life an average human being.

He argued that justice must be balanced, not just to the government, but also to the doctors who are the field marshals in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Details later…

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Pay death benefits, salary arrears, NARD tells FG

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Pay death benefits, salary arrears, NARD tells FG
The National President, National Association of Resident Doctors, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige
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Pay death benefits, salary arrears, NARD tells FG

Striking members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors have said that they may shift ground on their ongoing strike that started on August 2 if they see signs that the Federal Government will honour agreements and clear some outstanding payments.

The outstanding payments the association is expecting the government to settle before they can consider ending the strike include death benefits of members who died during COVID-19 pandemic and salary arrears among others.

It was further learnt that the leadership of NARD and that of the Nigerian Medical Association would be meeting the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Friday in continuation of efforts to end the strike.

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Our correspondent gathered that the issue of review of hazard allowance will feature prominently in the Friday meeting.

Pay death benefits, salary arrears, NARD tells FG

An earlier meeting NARD and NMA had with the minister on Tuesday was said to have been postponed due to the failure of both parties to agree.

When contacted on the telephone on Wednesday, NARD’s Secretary General, Jerry Isogun, confirmed the development to our correspondent.

Resident doctors, FG tell court they’re open to negotiation
However, the Federal Government and NARD on Wednesday told the National Industrial Court, Abuja that they were open to negotiations in order to end the ongoing strike action.

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They disclosed this to Justice Bashar Alkali when the matter came up in court.

The counsel for the resident doctors, Femi Falana (SAN), prayed the court to direct the parties to return to the negotiation table.

The counsel for the Federal Government, Tochukwu Maduka (SAN), responded that the matter at hand was of a special breed.

He told the court that the parties were earlier sent to an industrial arbitral panel, but the arbitral process failed.

However, Maduka told the court that the Federal Government was still open to negotiations.

Consequently, the court fixed its ruling on the ongoing dispute between the Federal Government and the resident doctors for September 17.

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Falana had raised the issue of the court’s jurisdiction and had sought that his application challenging the court’s jurisdiction be taken.

But Maduka stated that the issue of contempt had yet to be taken and argued that the issue of contempt should take precedence over the issue of jurisdiction.

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Please Cease The Strike – Buhari Govt Begs Resident Doctors

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Please Cease The Strike – Buhari Govt Begs Resident Doctors
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Please Cease The Strike – Buhari Govt Begs Resident Doctors

President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government has begged striking National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, to call off their ongoing strike.

Akelicious Media reports that the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, made the call during the presidential committee on COVID-19 briefing on Monday.

The minister begged residents doctors to put an end to the ongoing strike action, adding that Buhari has promised to settle all debts.

Last week his excellency, the president received the leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association in audience and in his remarks called on doctors on strike to return to duty and for those contemplating it to opt for peaceful resolution, so as not to put the lives of citizens at risk,” he said.

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“He reminded us that his administration has a sound track record of paying debts, even such debts as inherited from, or ignored by preceeding administration. Resident doctors are therefore assured from the highest authority in the land that all debts will be settled, when they are verified and validated.

Please Cease The Strike – Buhari Govt Begs Resident Doctors

“With this, I call on striking doctors to put an end to their industrial action immediately and return to work. Nigeria has been lucky with the relatively low impact of COVID-19 so far, and we need to keep our preparedness optimal. We cannot afford to stretch our luck too far.”

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Buhari had last Friday met with members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in a bid to find a solution to crisis rocking the health sector.

Recall that Doctors on August 2, embarked on strike action, accusing the federal government of failing to implement agreements it had with their union on issues including salaries, hazard allowances, and others.

The strike embarked upon by the doctors had been expected to be close to a peaceful resolution until the resident doctors on Sunday told the federal government they won’t sign the memorandum of understanding put on the table by the government team.

The doctors accused the government of insincerity in its dealings, hence their inability to trust what is contained in the memorandum again since they’ve been deceived previously.

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