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Nurses challenge NMCN in court over certificate verification circular

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Nigerian nurses have initiated legal proceedings against the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria regarding its recent circular mandating the verification of nurses’ and midwives’ certificates by foreign nursing boards or councils. 

The Registrar/Secretary General of NMCN, Dr. Faruk Umar Abubakar, is named as the second defendant in the case.

The circular, issued on February 7, 2024, has sparked a range of reactions from stakeholders. Among its contentious provisions, it stipulates that eligible applicants must possess a minimum of two years’ post-qualification experience with a permanent practicing license, categorically rejecting any application with a provisional license. 

Additionally, the circular requires a letter of Good Standing from the applicant’s place(s) of work and last nursing training institution, to be addressed directly to the Registrar/CEO of NMCN.

Under the umbrella of the Incorporated Trustees of University Graduates of Nursing Science Association, aggrieved nurses have taken their concerns to the Federal High Court in Enugu. The suit, numbered FHC/E/CS/22/2024, was filed by the plaintiffs’ counsel, Barr Chijioke Ezeh.

The plaintiffs seek declarations asserting that the actions of the second defendant, Faruk, in issuing the circular, violate relevant laws and encroach upon the dissolved Board of Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria. 

They insist on the nullification of the directives contained in the circular and urge the court to compel the second defendant to rescind and cancel the directives immediately. Furthermore, they demand an injunction restraining the second defendant from issuing further directives that contradict the laws governing the operations of NMCN.

The nurses are also seeking general and aggravated damages amounting to five million Naira for the hardships endured.

Speaking to journalists in Enugu, Barr Chijioke Ezeh underscored the significance of the legal action. 

He emphasized that it aims to address alleged acts of impunity and arbitrariness by Faruk, which undermine the authority of the NMCN and the rights of nurses in Nigeria. He voiced concerns regarding the circular’s impact on nurses’ independence and constitutional rights, particularly regarding the issuance of letters of good standing and travel regulations.

Ezeh stated, “We are saying that allowing that is making nurses in Nigeria subservient to doctors, because those who are employers of nurses are mostly medical doctors.” He added, “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?”

He also highlighted issues surrounding travel regulations, stating, “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.”

 

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