Senate on Thursday lambasted the Director General, National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii, for alleged gross injustice against a staff of the agency, Mrs. Esther Amuta.
It particularly criticised the NAFDAC boss for not keeping to the civil service rule in dealing with the case of Amuta, who had petitioned the upper legislative chamber over the alleged injustice.
Considering the report of the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions presented by its chairman, Senator Samuel Nnaemeka Anyanwu (PDP Imo East), the Senate said the agency did not comply with practice of civil service.
During his presentation of the report, Anyanwu disclosed, among other observations and findings of the Committee, that Amuta, as a pioneer staff of NAFDAC, has put in 29 years of service in different directorates of the agency.
“The DG was not right to have imposed a junior deputy as a temporary head of a directorate on retirement of a substantive director, when a more experienced deputy director in that directorate was available.
“The argument of the DG that he placed Mrs. Veronica Ezeh, a junior deputy director, ahead of Mrs. Esther Amuta, because of her (Ezeh’s) specialisation in food science, technology and quality assurance as well as the desire of the agency to comply with the June 2016 European Union Market, EUM, deadline, is not tenable because seniority is recognised in the public service in Nigeria.
Mrs Veronica Ezeh could have effectively assisted Mrs Esther Amuta, while both of them awaited the appointment of a substantive director.
“The DG did not actually help matters, as he spoke with both sides of his mouth. While he asserted that Mrs. Amuta was a contentious staff, wrote petitions on every matter and consequently unsuitable to head a directorate, he wrote her a letter of appreciation in 2013; and when the Committee asked him why he did that, he said (that) it was his habit to write all staff letters of appreciation as a motivation,” he said.
Consequently, the Committee recommended that, “Mrs Esther Amuta be immediately restored to her position as the temporary Head/Deputy Director for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Directorate, pending the appointment of a substantive director to that position”.
It also recommended that no punitive measure should be taken against her because of her petitioning of NAFDAC over her struggle for justice.
In his contribution, Senator Matthew Uroghide (PDP Edo South) described the issue as a case of corruption and violation of the Civil Service rule.
“The Civil Service rule is sacrosanct, and cannot be over looked. This is an issue of corruption. We all know what happens in NAFDAC, especially those of us who are pharmacist,” he lamented.
Uroghide maintained that hierarchy ‎and experience supersedes one’s course of study in the Civil Service.
In his remarks, the Senate ‎President, Senator Bukola Saraki, commended the committee for its efforts in producing a detailed report.
Amuta’s petition was brought before the Senate on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP Abia South), who rose on Order 41(3) of the Standing Rule.
The matter was thereafter, referred to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions for proper investigation.