Termination based on HIV status

Termination based on HIV status

Miss A is a qualified Radiographer who was offered a temporary appointment by the Federal Medical Centre, Katsina on March 16, 2015. Some months after Miss A resumed duties, some of her colleagues started taunting her of being a person living with HIV/AIDS. The situation even got so bad that she was being nicknamed “HIV Girl” in her department. She reported this stigmatization and her consequent frustration to her head of department and other authorities but both did nothing about the complaints. Miss A later discovered that it was the then Head of Radiology Dept. that had gone to find out concerning her from where she had earlier worked in Lagos. The same man was the first to openly announce to Miss A that they knew she was living with HIV/AIDS. He had also told every colleague of Miss A about her status. Besides, at the back of Miss A’s NHIS Records maintained by the Centre, the phrase “RVS +” was boldly written. Miss A NHIS records were easily accessible to anyone that has any contact with the records room.


The attendant frustrations led to several altercations between Miss A and some of her colleagues which resulted in the issuing of queries to Miss A by the Centre. Miss A was also handed a suspension without anyone considering her several bitter complaints. At a point, she wrote a strongly worded letter of appeal to the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) asking the association to intervene in the matter as she was not being treated fairly. The gang up by all against Miss A was aimed at eliminating her from their midst in view of her discovered status.


It got to a point when Miss A was not being allowed to perform her legitimate and innocuous duties due to some baseless fear of infecting others. Miss A had a fiancé who was not a person living with HIV/AIDS. The Fiancé had to be summoned and dissuaded by a colleague of Miss A who told the fiancé not to ever contemplate getting close to Miss A, much more marrying her in view of her HIV status. Miss A colleagues always taunt her that nobody would watch and allow her marry any man that is not HIV positive. They would further say that they would do everything possible to discourage who ever would want to have anything to do with her. A particular senior colleague of Miss A even mocked her by telling her to go and adopt a child instead of wasting her time trying to wait for whom to marry. Another colleague of Miss A would, up to even a whole day, not have anything to do with any seat that Miss A has used. Some of Miss A’s colleagues described her as a frustrated person that is infected with HIV/AIDS. The response to her complaint has always been that she was nagging and not accommodating. The colleagues would always say they were not ready to work with an HIV positive person thereby doing everything to get rid of her from around them. Every known crude method was employed to get rid of Miss A.


As if all these were not enough, Miss A received a letter of termination of her appointment that was dated September 21, 2017 from the office of the Head of Administration. Miss A had written letters to other authorities such as the office of the Federal Minster of Health, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and the Office of the Country Director, UNAIDS for them to prevail on the Federal Medical Centre, Katsina to reverse the termination. Such letters had not yielded the desired results. Besides, this termination do not, in the least, meet the minimum requirements of fair hearing as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.


Lawyers Alert took up the case immediately it heard the story and filed a suit in court after all efforts towards an amicable settlement had failed. On being served with Miss A’s originating processes in the matter, the defendants who are all being represented by a single counsel responded by filing and serving a defence and a notice of preliminary objection. The defendants’ objection bothered on the provision of Section 2 of the Public Officers (Protection) Act. The defendants had argued that the suit was statute barred by virtue of the Act. As counsel to Miss A, we have responded to the objection. Same was filed and served on the counsel to the defendants. We are only awaiting a possible reply and subsequent adoption of same in court. On the last adjourned date, court did not sit and matter has been further adjourned to the 18th day of October 2018 for the adoption of written addresses of parties and subsequent ruling on the objection by court.
 
   
   
 
 
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