Physicians News

Nigerian Nurses Resist Draconian Circular, Take Nursing Council, Registrar To Court

Nigerian Nurses have taken the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, NMCN, to court over its recent circular for requesting verification of certificates for nurses and midwives to foreign nursing boards or councils.

The Nursing Professionals also joined in the suit as 2nd defendant the Registrar/Secretary General of NMCN, Dr. Faruk Umar Abubakar.

It will be recalled that recently the circular issued by Faruk on February 7, 2024, has been attracting mixed reactions from stakeholders.

The controversial circular, described as Draconian by some healthcare professionals, among other things, provides that, “Eligible applicants must have a minimum of two (2) years post qualification experience from the date of issuance of the permanent practising licence. Any application with a provisional licence shall be rejected outrightly.

“The Council shall request a letter of Good Standing from the Chief Executive Officer of the applicant’s place(s) of work and the last nursing training institution attended, and responses on these shall be addressed directly to the Registrar/CEO, Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria. Please note that the Council shall not accept such letter(s) through the applicant.”

Dissenting professional nurses, under the auspices of Incorporated Trustees of University Graduates of Nursing Science Association, have now approached a Federal High Court sitting in Enugu, seeking a judicial interpretation of Faruk’s action.

The suit, with No FHC/E/CS/22/2024, was filed by the counsel to the plaintiffs, Barr Chijioke Ezeh.

The plaintiffs are seeking “a declaration that by the widest construction of the Nursing and Midwifery Registration Act ‘CAP N 143 L.F.N 2004) and other relevant extant applicable Laws, the 2nd defendant have no right whatsoever to issue or sign any circular and (or) directives in the exclusion and negation of the Board of Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, Board of which was ipso facto dissolved by the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria on 19th June, 2023.

“A declaration that by the widest construction of the Nursing and Midwifery Registration Act ‘CAP N 143 L.F.N 2004). Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and other relevant extant applicable Laws, ALL DIRECTIVES as contained in the purported circular of Guidelines dated 7th February, 2024 as issued and signed by the 2nd defendant are unlawful, draconian, uncharitable, inconsiderate and unkind consequent upon which they are declared null, void and of no effect.

“An order compelling the 2nd defendant to open up and keep opened the portal of 1 defendant, rescind and cancel forthwith ALL such DIRECTIVES as contained in the purported circular of Guidelines dated 7th February, 2024 same being unlawful, null, void and of no effect.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 2nd defendant from further signing or issuance of any other directives, instructions or circular in contradiction of the general intendments of Nursing and Midwifery Registration Act ‘CAP N 143 L.F.N 2004), Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and other relevant extant applicable Laws binding the operations of Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria.”

The nurses are consequently praying the court “to grant a general and aggravated damages of five million Naira (N5,000,000.00) only for strictures and discomfitures.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

The legal counsel to the plaintiffs Barrister Ezeh, spoke to journalists in Enugu on Sunday, declared that his clients went to court over alleged acts of impunity and arbitrariness perpetrated by Faruk, “wherein, acting under the auspices of his office, he has been issuing circulars that are repugnant to the tenets of his office and repugnant to the extant law that established the NMCN.

“We are saying that allowing that is making nurses in Nigeria to be subservient to the doctors, because those who are employers of nurses are mostly medical doctors.

“It is subservient for another profession to issue a letter of good standing; can’t the Nursing and Midwifery Council issue a letter of good standing for their own, why do it in such a manner that another profession will issue such letter?

“In one of the circulars, Farouk also said that no nurse will leave the shores of Nigeria without complying with certain prescribed rules; we are saying no, that the constitution is the grundnorm; the circular is an infringement on the right to freedom of association as guaranteed by the constitution”, he added.

About the author

Joseph Chukwuma Oputa

Joseph Chukwuma Oputa is the Managing Editor of Maslow Businessnews and Physicians News publications published by Maslow Business News Publications, Lagos, Nigeria.

Joseph Oputa is a proud Alumnus of the prestigious Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos and Federal Polytechnic, Bida, Niger State.

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