The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), has rejected the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) presented by the Federal Government.
The NARD’s National President, Dr Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, said this while addressing newsmen at the end of a closed door meeting with the Federal Government and other relevant stakeholders, yesterday in Abuja.
The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) led the striking doctors to a meeting summoned at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari aimed at resolving the ongoing strike by doctors across the country.
It would be recalled that the resident doctors embarked on an indefinite strike on August 1 to press home the issues of agitation amongst their members.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, had on August 13, handed over the trade dispute between the Federal Government and NARD to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria for adjudication.
According to Uyilawa, NARD had refused to sign the MoU that was brokered by its parent body, the NMA, and the Federal Government due to an undisclosed clause.
“We rejected the MoU, we didn’t sign it because we feel we are being punished for the failures of those in government,” he said.
He said the nationwide strike would continue and that they would proceed with the court case.
He, however, added that NARD leadership has to present the new MoU to its members before he could sign the document.
On his part, Ngige said that all other unions in the negotiation including the NMA and the Medical and Dental Consultants of Nigeria have signed the new agreement.
He noted that the meeting did not discuss the issue of ‘No Work No Pay’ but that all parties at the meeting agreed to an out-of-court settlement.
The Federal Government, had, last Saturday morning agreed to pay N4.8billion residency training fund to the National Association of Resident Doctors within seven days.
The government also agreed to clear the arrears of the consequential adjustment of the national minimum wage, starting from April when the bill was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari to December, 2019.
The government, through the Federal Ministry of Health, also said it has forwarded a list from 38 hospitals to the budget office for inclusion in the Service Wide Vote.
The agreement may have laid the foundation for the peaceful resolution of the ongoing strike by NARD, which commenced on August 1, 2021.
In a statement issued on Saturday morning by the Deputy Director of Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, Ngige said the President directed him to side step every technicalities and re-commence conciliation, especially in the background of the alternative dispute resolution window provided by the National Industrial Court, where the matter was referred to under the instrument of Article 17 of the Trade Disputes Act.
He said, “The National Industrial Court in its wisdom advised that NARD should keep talking with its employers. So, we are tapping into this widow of an alternative dispute resolution to ameliorate this situation that is already bad.”
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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari “over his failure to probe allegations that N106billion of public funds are missing from 149 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), and to ensure the prosecution of those suspected to be responsible, and the recovery of any missing public funds.”
The suit followed the grim allegations by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation in his 2018 annual audited report that N105,662,350,077.46 of public funds are missing, misappropriated or unaccounted for across 149 MDAs.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/903/2021 filed last week at the Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP is seeking, “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to promptly investigate the alleged missing N106billion of public funds, ensure prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible, and the full recovery of any missing public money.”
In the suit, SERAP is arguing that, “Recovering the alleged missing public funds would reduce the pressure on the Federal Government to borrow more money to fund the budget, enable the authorities to meet the country’s constitutional and international obligations, and reduce the growing level of public debts.”
According to SERAP, “Directing and compelling President Buhari to ensure the investigation and prosecution of the alleged grand corruption documented by the Auditor-General would be entirely consistent with the government’s own commitment to fight corruption, improve the integrity of MDAs, and serve the public interest.”
SERAP is also arguing that, “The alleged missing public funds have hampered the ability of the indicted MDAs to meet the needs of average citizens, as the missing funds could have helped the government to invest in key public goods and services, and to improve access of Nigerians to these goods and services.”
Joined in the suit as Respondents are Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN; and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.
SERAP is arguing that, “It is in the interest of justice to grant this application, as it would improve respect for the rights of Nigerians, and improve their access to essential public goods and services. The suit is in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended); anti-corruption legislation, and the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption; and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”
SERAP is also seeking an order to compel the president “to publish full details of the yearly budgets of all MDAs, and issue regular updates that detail their expenditures, including by making any such information easily accessible in a form that can be understood by the public.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Joke Fekumo, read in part, “The failure to investigate the allegations of grand corruption in the 2018 annual audited report constitutes a grave violation of the duty placed on the Nigerian government to take appropriate measures to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public finances.
“President Buhari’s constitutional responsibility to ensure the investigation and prosecution of allegations of corruption, as well as recovery of any missing public funds is contained in Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution, which provides that ‘the State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power’, and in the Oath of Office in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
“The Oath of Office of the President is considered of such importance that Section 140 of the 1999 Constitution provides that the President cannot perform his or her respective official functions as President without taking the oath of office.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
No fewer than 15 kidnapped students of the Bethel Baptist High School have been released by bandits.
It would be recalled that the bandits released 28 of the students on Sunday, July 25, after N50million ransom was paid, and 20 days in captivity.
The students were 121 in number, according to the president of the Kaduna Baptist Conference, Rev. Ishaya Jangado, who is also the proprietor of the school.
They were kidnapped in the early hours of July 5, 2021, around 2am at the school premises along the Kaduna-Kachia highway, Damishi, in Chikun Local Government Area of the state.
The Chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. John Hayab, said the 15 students were released on Saturday night by the bandits.
Last Wednesday nine pupils of an Islamic seminary were seized by motorcycle-riding attackers in Katsina State, the second such incident in as many months.
Many hostages remain captive, including more than 136 children abducted in June from an Islamic seminary in Tegina in central Niger State, four of whom have died in captivity.
Last Friday, the gangs asked the seminary to send clothing for the schoolchildren who have been in the same clothes for months, according to one of the parents.
“They phoned the head of the school and told him to ask parents to send the children new clothes as the one they have been wearing are in shreds,” Maryam Mohammed, whose seven children are among the hostages.
The violence in northwestern and central Nigeria is rooted in clashes between nomadic cattle herders and local farmers over land and water.
But violence has spiralled into widespread tit-for-tat attacks, mass kidnapping and banditry.
Kidnap gangs are driven by financial motives though there are signs of increasing ties between them and Islamist militants fighting a 12-year insurgency in the country’s North-East.
That conflict has killed around 40,000 people, and displaced more than two million from their homes.
A group under the aegis of Conscience of Ogoni People (COOP), has commended the resourcefulness and forthrightness of the Nigerian Judiciary.
In a statement while reacting to the judgement of the Court of Appeal that set aside the earlier judgement of the Federal High Court given in favour of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in 2019, the group said that by reversing the lower court, despite the subterranean move by SPDC to re-enter Ogoni land, the court has demonstrated they were, indeed, the last hope of the common man.
The statement signed by the leader, Chief Gani Topba, also commended the Federal Government for listening to the plea of the people and taking the decision not to renew OML 11 for the SPDC.
The statement reads; “It is with joy and jubilation that we received the news of the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division in Appeal No: CA/A/824/2019 – THE MINISTER OF PETROLEUM RESOURCES & ANOR v. THE SHELL PETROLEUM DEVELOPMENT COMPANY OF NIGERIA LIMITED delivered today, Friday, August 20, 2021, which set aside the earlier judgment of the Federal High Court given in favour of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) sometime in 2019, and sacked the SPDC from Ogoniland.
“Recall that we had in 2019 informed you of the subterranean move by the SPDC to re-enter Ogoniland through the back door via Suit No: CS/524/19 filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division in which the court ordered the Federal Government of Nigeria to renew SPDC’s lease in OML 11 for another 20 years.
“Upon receipt of the judgment of the Federal High Court, the leadership of the COOP engaged the Federal Government of Nigeria and impressed on the government the need to appeal the said judgment in the interest of Ogoni people and Nigerians at large.
“The government appealed the said judgment of the Federal High Court in the same 2019. This appeal was decided today by a three-man Panel of the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal in reversing the lower court on the issue of renewal held that the Minister of Petroleum Resources has discretion under the Petroleum Act to renew or decline to accede to the application for grant of a renewal of an oil mining lease by an applicant. The Court of Appeal further held that the decision of the Minister of Petroleum Resources not to renew OML 11 for the SPDC was in order, valid and cannot be questioned.
“This judgment, therefore, effectively brings to an end the stranglehold of the SPDC over OML 11 (Ogoni Fields) which has lasted for over six decades, beginning from 1958, and which brought to the Ogoni people nothing but military oppression, genocide, economic strangulation, misery, acute poverty, environmental degradation and gross human rights violations that culminated in the execution of the Ogoni heroes, Ken Saro-Wiwa and his fellow martyrs-in-struggle.
“ As we join millions of people of conscience across the world to bid the SPDC farewell from Ogoniland today upon the dissolution of the slavish and colonial ties that held us together for these over six decades, we salute the courage and decisiveness of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, who doubles as the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Mele Kyari, the security agencies and all stakeholders who listened to the plea of the people and took the decision not to renew OML 11 for the SPDC.
“We thank them all for the victory recorded today through our collective efforts. We also commend the resourcefulness and forthrightness of the Nigerian Judiciary which by today’s judgment has reinforced our belief that the Judiciary is indeed the last home of the common man.
“We are excited because today the exit of the SPDC from Ogoniland which was foretold by our hero, Ken Saro-Wiwa, has been actualized in our lifetime and through the collective sacrifice of Ogoni people. As at today, all rights and interests in and over OML 11 (Ogoni fields) have reverted to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“We have already set our agenda for a robust engagement with the Federal Government of Nigeria on the possibility of returning to the negotiation table with a view to resolving the legacy issues that occasioned the Ogoni agitation.
“We trust the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately open lines of communication with Ogoni leaders of thought with a view to commencing preliminary talks. We are very optimistic that the exit of the SPDC will open new vistas towards unleashing the full oil and gas potentials of the Ogoni fields and its development in a transparent and environmentally sound manner for the benefit of all stakeholders.
“On behalf of the Ogoni people, we wish to state that never again shall we allow any lessee or operator of OML 11 (Ogoni fields) to impoverish our people, destroy our livelihoods and economy and render our environment an ecological wasteland by adopting bad oilfield practice in the development of the Ogoni oil block.
“We make bold to assure that Ogoni people will continue to peacefully and non-violently resist every repeat of the SPDC treatment. We appeal to Ogoni people to give the Federal Government of Nigeria the necessary support and opportunity to right the wrongs of the past through transparent dialogue, collaboration and inclusion in the development of OML 11 (Ogoni fields).
“We call on Ogoni people to be resolute and steadfast as we shall collectively mobilize our people to non-violently and peacefully fight for our rights as indigenous people recognised under international law and we shall win”.
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