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Retirement age: Nurse tutor drags FG to court

By Lawrence Njoku, Enugu
01 October 2022   |   5:12 am
Nurse educators under the Federal Ministry of Health have dragged the Federal Government to court seeking an interpretation of the newly signed harmonised retirement age for teachers in Nigeria.

[FILES] A registered nurse stirs a nasal swab in testing solution. (Photo by MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Nurse educators under the Federal Ministry of Health have dragged the Federal Government to court seeking an interpretation of the newly signed harmonised retirement age for teachers in Nigeria.

In suit No. FHC/183/2023, filed at the Federal High Court Enugu, Mrs. Abba Ugo Cecelia, a Nurse educator, who is an Assistant Director, said the move was a last resort after both the Federal Civil Service Commission and the Federal Ministry of Health failed to respond to her letters.

Abba spoke to journalists at the premises of the Federal High Court, Enugu, disclosing that though President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the bill as passed by the National Assembly, the Ministry of Health was foot-dragging in its implementation.

Joined as defendants in the suit are the Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission, the Minister for Health and the Federal Ministry of Health.

Coming by way of originating summon, the plaintiff, the class action suit for herself and on behalf of others, is asking the court to determine: “Whether by the widest construction of the Harmonised Retirement Age for Teachers in Nigeria Act 2022 (as recently signed into law by His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari) and other relevant extant applicable laws, the applicant and all other persons belonging to her class and being registered nurse/educators working with institutions under the Federal Ministry of Health are entitled to benefit from and or retire upon the attainment of the new retirement age of 65 years and length of service of 40 years as contained and envisaged under the Harmonised Retirement Age for Teachers in Nigeria Act 2022.

“Whether by the widest construction of the Harmonised Retirement Age for Teachers in Nigeria Act 2022 (as recently signed into law by His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari) and other relevant extant applicable laws, the applicant and all other persons belonging to her class and being registered nurse/educators working with institutions under the Federal Ministry of Health are and should be considered as education officers, irrespective of their postings for the purpose of benefiting from the new retirement age of 65 years and length of service of 40 years as contained and envisaged under the Harmonised Retirement Age for Teachers in Nigeria Act 2022.

“Whether it was right for the defendants/respondents and their staff/agents/servants to work or act contrary to the clear stipulations and general intendments of the Federal Government as contained in circular of the Federal Ministry of Education dated June 23, 2022, signed by one Andrew David Adejo (Permanent Secretary) and the Harmonised Retirement Age for Teachers in Nigeria Act 2022, as recently signed into law by His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari.”

The plaintiff further prayed to the court that upon determining the issues in their favour, the sum of N5,000,000.00 should be awarded to her as general and aggravated damages.

Meanwhile, counsel to the plaintiff, Chijioke Ezeh, said Abba, “the substantive coordinator of Nurse Tutors Institute Enugu, filed a class action suit, for herself and representing all such persons in her category working under the Federal Ministry of Health.

“We are expecting the court to answer relevant questions and make necessary consequential declarations.”

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