Protesters lock hospital wards, demand CMD’s removal

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There was a mild drama on Wednesday at the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Imo State, when workers paralysed all activities at the centre, following the news that the embattled Chief Medical Director, Dr. Angela Uwakwem, had been reinstated by the Federal Ministry of Health and was around to resume work.

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The workers, who grounded all activities at the centre in protest of the presumed return of Uwakwem, accused the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Ehanire Osagie, and the Director of FMCs, Dr. Ngozi Onwudiwe, of aiding the return of Uwakwem, whom they said was unfit to return to the centre.

The embittered workers, who locked up all offices, medical units and wards in protest, told our correspondent that the tenure of Uwakwem was marked by controversies.

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Vowing not to go back to work, the aggrieved officials stressed that the return of the CMD would negate the operations of the centre.

Specifically, they told Uwakwem to go and clear herself of the charges pressed against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission before she could come back as the CMD of the centre.

“We won’t allow someone who has a case with the EFCC to be the CMD of this centre. She should go and clear her name of the financial allegations levelled against first before she could come to struggle to be CMD,” a statement by the workers said.

When contacted on the telephone, Uwakwem said she had been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Federal Ministry of Health, which ordered that she should resume work immediately.

She said that she was unperturbed by the allegations being levelled against her by the workers as long as her integrity and competence were not in doubt by the Federal Government.

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Responding to the allegation that she was facing prosecution by the EFCC, Uwakwem said, “I am not even in Owerri now. They are just lying against me as usual. The truth is that I have been cleared of any wrongdoing and I have been asked to resume work immediately. I am the chief exectutive; I can resume work from anywhere.

“For now, I have resumed work, but I’m not yet in the office; the order was with immediate effect. They should let the court decide; you don’t say somebody is guilty until the court says so.”

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The Police Commissioner, Imo State Command, Taiwo Lakenu, said he had yet to visit the centre. He, however, said that the command would ensure the resumption of the CMD.

He reiterated that the government had given a directive that the embattled CMD should resume work with immediate effect.

Policemen and officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were seen at the centre when our correspondent visited on Wednesday.

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