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Pharmacist seeks N2.5b for ‘unlawful sack,’ ‘churches’ harassment’

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A Federal High Court in Lagos will on October 26 resume hearing of a suit by a pharmacist, Hitler Eguriase Miller, alleging unlawful sack by Delta State Health Service Commission.

Justice Akintayo Aluko will also hear Miller’s allegation of harassment against The Incorporated Trustees of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries (MFM) international and 49 others.

The plaintiff’s allegations are against 51 respondents including the General Overseers (GOs) of both churches, those of 13 other churches as well as their pastors and prophets.

Other respondents in the suit include the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and several other pharmacists.

He made the claims in suit FHC/L/CS/1512/2020 filed through his counsel Olusegun Shoneye.

The plaintiff is seeking, among others, N50million jointly and severally against each of the 51 respondents, amounting to about N2.550billion

Miller, with Pharmacy registration number 015426 of Shop No. 4, PETROCAM Gas Fuelling Station, Ikorodu, Lagos, averred that he used to worship under the pastors before he “received a call to serve my Lord outside Ughelli, Delta State.”

He averred further in his affidavit that “since the revelation of my call I have faced series of persecution from the 3rd – 15th Respondents”.

He alleged that they had been contacting his “friends, families and professional colleagues alike who are the other Respondents to defame, castigate, harass, molest and ultimately denial of my rights and entitlements.

“When I realised these acts, I decided to leave their Church to forge ahead in the service of my Lord and in fulfilment of my call; they started castigating, persecuting and slandering me up to my present church or place of worship and theological school, that is, Daystar Christian Centre and International Bible Academy.”

He told the court that the activities of the 3rd-30th Respondents together with the 51st Respondent forced him to sell his Pharmaceutical shop at No. 51, Isoko Road, Ughelli, Delta State, and sought refuge elsewhere.

He further alleged that since he left Ughelli in October 2016, he had suffered threats to his life and properties, causing him to become nomadic.

Miller prayed the court for several reliefs, including cessation of the “continuous threats”, a declaration that the purported sack and or termination of his temporary appointment on November 6, 2012 was without fair hearing and thus unconstitutional.

He further prayed for an order of reinstatement upward promotions and payment of his salaries and arrears from the month of December, 2012 till date and a declaration that the rejection of his application to open his pharmacy shop in Ikorodu was unlawful, among others.

But the 36th to 50th respondents, comprising the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and 13 pharmacists, filed a preliminary objection to the suit through their counsel Anse Agu Ezetah.

They prayed the court to strike out the suit for being an abuse of process.

“The case alleges defamation without particulars and this is a FHR (Fundamental Human Rights) Application. The application alleges snippet of matrimonial misconduct against the 24th Defendant in a FHR Application.

They contended further that labour matters are the exclusive preserve of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, not the Federal High Court, adding that there was no evidence for the allegation of “threat to life by SMS and other social media by undisclosed persons,” the respondents averred in the December 3, 2020 objection.

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