EFCC may quiz Chukwu, Maku as angry workers lock out minister

    By Gbenga Ogundare

    Federal Ministry of Health headquarters, Abuja, was shut down Tuesday as workers in the ministry launched a manhunt for embattled Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr Amina Shamaki.

    The ensuing chaos led to the Minister of health, Prof. Adewole Isaac, being locked outside the ministry for over an hour that it lasted.

    The Permanent Secretary has been accused of high-handedness and alleged connivance with some directors to institute legal action against the ministry.
    The disgruntled workers also accused her of incompetence and overbearing tendencies.

    Eyewitnesses and protesting workers in the ministry who spoke with National Daily Newspaper revealed that Shamaki was kicked out by workers, following her resumption in office on Tuesday after  about a month absence.

    This newspaper gathered that  the controversial Permanent Secretary came in company of gun-toting security officials, but disappeared almost immediately after workers in the ministry, led by Hassan Habba, rang bells calling for protest against her arrival.

    The workers who mobilized across 11 floors in the ministry to storm Shamaki’s office, were seeking her redeployment over allegation of incompetence, corruption and high-handedness.

    One of the workers who pleaded anonymity said: “We wanted to disgrace her by bringing her out of her office to the open space and beat the hell out of her. Unfortunately for us, she was bundled by her security aides through the floor that links our ministry with the Federal Ministry of Education.

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    “Imagine this woman bribing over 4,000 workers of this ministry with N5000. We just saw alert of N5000 recently that it was for our welfare for 2015. When did 2015 budget ended? Who appropriated the money for the ministry? She has held the Ministers hostage, they cannot talk to her. She does what she likes here.”

    The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, was also said to have pleaded with the workers, but the workers remained adamant, as according to some of their leaders, “they couldn’t make meaning from all she said for 30 minutes.”

    Shamaki, A former Director of Tertiary Hospitals in the ministry, has been embroiled in diverse allegations bothering on corruption and collusion to distort civil service rules.

    Shamaki had reportedly dragged the Federal Government to court, insisting that directors who have reached retirement age in the ministry should not retire, and also secured favourable injunction against the government.

    Some of the allegations against her are that “she awarded contract of over 100millions without following due process by making payment within 48 hours; personalising government affairs by including family members in official trips.

    The permanent secretary, however refused to speak with journalists on Tuesday when contacted, saying as civil servant, she could not talk to the press.

    Meanwhile, as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) continues to dig up more graft cases in the ministry, the agency on Tuesday quizzed Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Prof Abdulsalami Nasidi, and Director, Finance and Account of the ministry, Anthony Hassan, over allegations on embezzlement and corruption.

    Five top officials of the ministry were also invited by the commission in a letter dated 23rd May, 2016, to appear before the commission over alleged criminal conspiracy, embezzlement, abuse of office, diversion of public funds and money laundering.

    The Head, Federal College of Complementary and Alternative medicine in the ministry, Emmanuel Out; Director, Health Planning, Research and Statistic/ Millennium Development Goals, Dr Ngozi Azodo; Head of Lassa Fever Project/Avian Influenza Programme, Durojaye Adebayo, will have their turn at the commission on Wednesday.

    this newspaper gathered that the grilling by the EFCC might soon be the turn of former Ministers of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu and former Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, over alleged diversion of funds donated for the control of Ebola virus disease in the country in 2014.

    “There are petitions against them already at the EFCC, and any of the officials invited might further indict them,” a top official in the ministry who also pleaded anonymity said.