Texts of the Press Conference Addressed by The Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) at Nelrose Hotel Limited Asaba, Delta State, on Saturday, February 25, 2017
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
‘When Rule of law fails, Anarchy follows: The Minister of Health should not turn Nigeria into a lawless Country’-AMLSN
Background: Gentlemen of the Press, you will recall that the last few weeks was characterized by protests and rallies by trade unions and groups against the current leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health for one reason or the other. You will also recall that the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Nigerian people and the National Health Act, 2014 forbids health professionals going on strikes in order to demand for their legitimate rights. These are the civilized reasons why as medical laboratory scientists and members of our reputable and civilized professional association, we subscribed to the ‘no strike option’. Rather, we pursued our legitimate right through every constitutional means including legal actions and processes.
After painstakingly pursuing our cases at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), the Courts ruled in these matters in 2013 -against FMC Asaba; 2014 -against JUTH; 2015 -against JUTH ; 2016- against OAUTH Ife and University of Uyo Teaching Hospital; and in 2017- against the Minister of Health, JUTH, FETHA, UNTH, National Orthopeadic Hospital Enugu, and others).
(i) AMLSN vs FMC ASABA CASE:
After a detailed consideration of the MLSCN Act No II, 2003 & others plus the Scheme of Service, the Court, held thus:-
1. Medical Laboratory scientists are distinct professionals ... & consequently entitled to be accorded due recognition.....
2. We are entitled to operate/work in a separate laboratory services dept.
3. Laboratory dept is not in conflict with others in the areas of compositions, responsibilities and schedule of duties....
4. Medical Laboratory Scientists can relate and will relate with other health professionals for the effective and efficient care of the patients.
5. Directed immediate recognition of the existing MLS Dept. & Scheme of Service.
(ii) AMLSN vs JUTH JOS CASE:
1. Declared rights pronounced in favour of the Medical Laboratory Scientists (claimants) via Asaba judgment is a notice to all medical laboratory scientists where we practice and to respect our status of the (claimants).
2. The above judgement is now a permanent identity of all medical laboratory scientists in Nigeria (the claimants) wherever they are employed to work in the public health sector of the Federation.
3. Once the above is brought to the notice of the employer of all medical laboratory scientists (the Claimants) in the Public Health Sector, we have a legal duty to adjust our administrative structure to reflect the legal status attached to us.
( iii) AMLSN/NUMPTAM vs OAUTH-IFE CASE:
1. Provision of MLSCN Act No II of 2003
2. Scheme of Service
3. Entitled to autonomy of practice
4. Bound by the Scheme of Service
1. Declaration ... only qualified and registered persons can practice the profession.....
2. Responsibility placed on Director, Medical Laboratory Services.
3. Entitled to autonomy of practice within our field of competence.
4. Defendants bound by the Scheme of Service ... as it affects the running and administration of the Medical Laboratory Science Departments.
5. Pathologists ...... not entitled to practice medical laboratory science profession
6. Order to set aside all decisions ... contrary to the Act & Scheme of Service.
7. Injunction restraining CEOs of health Institutions eroding or undermining autonomy of practice by Medical Laboratory Scientists by imposing Supervisory control of non – Scientists on medical laboratory scientists
8. The Judge clearly stated that an employer cannot deploy her staffers to erode the autonomy granted to a particular profession by deploying people who are not members of that profession to head or supervise such profession and its members. This was clrarly stated by the presiding judge on P 26 (last paragraph) of the judgement.
(iv) AMLSN vs FETHA, UNTH, National Orthopeadic Hospital Enugu, the Minister of Health & others; University of Uyo Teaching Hospital cases and other similar cases sought identical reliefs as those of the above cases.
The management of these hospitals were hiding under the fact that the Minister of Health had not given them a circular to effect the court judgements. Surprisingly and unfortunately, those charged with ensuring that the statutes of government and laws of the land are obeyed are the same elements doing everything to frustrate these judgments and preventing our members from enjoying the fruits of government’s good intentions. They are daily manifestly trying to enthrone the law of the jungle by disrespecting the pronouncements of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN). They have used the machinery and instruments, power and authority of government vested in them to wittingly suppress, subjugate and ensure that government provision for other health professionals especially that of Medical Laboratory Scientists is denied them. This has become an overarching trend by successive leadership at the FMOH and heads of its health facilities and institutions. This trend has resulted in further fuelling the rancor and disharmony in workplaces that is prevailing currently in most of the health institutions in Nigeria.
9. We are glad that Hon. Justice M. N. Esowe at the NICN, Abuja in her judgement on Friday February 17, 2017 expressly directed the CMD and the DA of JUTH- Prof. Edmund Bangwas and Ali Bitrus respectively to within 30 days, remove all Pathologists and all persons not allowed by the LFN Cap M25, LFN, 2004 (MLSCN Act) to be in the Medical Laboratory Services department from the Laboratory failing which they shall be committed straight to the prison.
The Judgement also applied to FETHA, UNTH, NAUTH, NOHEnugu . The Hon Minister of Health Prof Isaac Adewole was also directed in the judgement to issue appropriate circular directing all CMDs/MDs of Federal tertiary health Institutions to comply with the court orders.
The above directive to the Hon Minister of Health compelling him to issue a circular to all CMDs and MDs of tertiary health institutions in Nigeria, is not an impossible task, if the Minister of health (Prof Isaac F Adewole) is to demonstrate his concern for the rule of law in Nigeria. It will be recalled that a similar circular ref C.5516/I/T3/152 dated 21st October, 2014 was released at that time. The circular was signed by the then Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health –Mr Linus Awute following compliance to a NICN court judgement of July 22nd, 2013- on appointment of non-medical doctor as Consultants/payment of specialists allowance by the FMoH. The current leadership of the FMoH should not blackmail President Muhammadu Buhari led FGN by creating an impression that the current government had no respect for the rule of Law!
10. We are anxiously monitoring and watching the body language and actions of the Minister of Health and his team. One thing we are sure of is that nobody, no matter how highly paced, is above the law of Nigeria.
11. These judgments will not be allowed by us to be swept under the carpet as done for those judgements given to the Nurses in the past.
12. When rule of law failed, anarchy is promoted. Enough is enough!!
Alh Toyosi Y Raheem Dr Surajudeen A Junaid Tam Adetunji Adeyeye
National President, AMLSN National Secretary National PRO