From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

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 issued 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 Medical Director of the institution.

After hearing from all parties involved, the committee concluded that President Bola Tinubu was misled when he replaced Igwe as the Medical Director.

The committee chairman, Mike Ataba, stated in his ruling: “We have listened to this matter. We don’t need to call the Honourable Minister of Health for State. 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.”

In his petition to the House, Igwe contended that his suspension and subsequent termination of his appointment did not follow laid-down procedures. He prayed the parliament to declare his suspension and termination illegal and direct the government to reinstate him.

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However, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Daju Kachollom, responded that Igwe’s suspension and subsequent termination were in accordance with extant rules. She explained that Igwe was suspended based on a petition from the institution. According to her, after his initial three-month suspension elapsed, it was further extended for another three months before his eventual termination.

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 his reinstatement.

They insisted that Kachollom should furnish the parliament with the specific rules the Ministry of Health relied on in terminating Igwe’s appointment.

One of the lawmakers, Fred Agedi, intervened, stating: “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 say for whatever offense, 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.”

Kachollom responded: “As I sit here, Honourable Chairman, with deep respect to the House, everything that I did is based on the procedure. I might not have the commission guideline here, but what we did is based on disciplinary procedure.”