Nurses sue Nigerian government over new verification guidelines

SOME nurses in Nigeria have sued the Federal Government over the new certificate verification guidelines recently introduced by the government.  

The defendants include the Minister of Health, Muhammad Ali Pate, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Lateef Fagbemi, and the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN).

On February 7, 2024, the NMCN published a circular updating the procedures for certificate verification for midwives and nurses.

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According to the council, applicants seeking verification of certificates from foreign nursing boards and councils must have two years of post-qualification experience from the date of the permanent practising licence issuance.

The revised regulations came into effect on March 1, 2024.

In the suit marked NICN/ABJ/ 76/2024 before the National Industrial Court in Abuja, the plaintiffs – Kelvin Ossai, Catherine Olatunji-Kuyoro, Desmond Aigbe, Tamunoibi Berry, Olumide Olurankinse, Osemwengie Osagie, Idowu Olabode and Abiola Olaniyan – are pleading with the court to prevent the defendants or their representatives from enforcing the NMCN circular.

At the mention of the suit on Wednesday, March 20, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Ode Evans, informed the court that he had just received the first and second defendants’ preliminary objections.

He pleaded with the judge to adjourn the case so he could respond to their requests.

The judge, Osatohanmwen Obaseki-Osaghae, adjourned the case till May 20 for a hearing.

Obaseki-Osaghae ordered that the AGF and the Federal Ministry of Health, not represented by counsel in court, be notified of the hearing.

Addressing reporters outside the court, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Ode, said the nurses were in court because they were uncomfortable with the new verification guidelines.

“Now, the matter today was coming up for the first time, and when matters come up for the first time, it is for mention. 

“The essence of the mention is to give a background to the court on whether parties have been served. We told the court we wanted to look at those applications because we had been served in court. So the court adjourned this matter to May 20 to enable us to react to those issues raised,” he stated.

According to Ode, the nurses are seeking the complete removal of the guidelines because they feel it violates their rights. 

Also speaking at the court premises, a representative of the nurses, Fawole Israel, described the policy as flawed and an infringement of the fundamental human rights of nurses.



    “We are asking the court to, by default, return the verification process to the status quo so that nurses in Nigeria can seek opportunities, especially to expand the scope of practice”, Israel stated.

    The ICIR reported on February 12 that nurses protested in Abuja and Lagos against the new guidelines.

    The Abuja protest took place at the headquarters of the NMCN in Abuja.

    In a video shared on social media, the nurses and midwives were seen chanting and carrying placards with inscriptions frowning at the policy.

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