Doctors Ignore Court Order, Strike Continues

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Resident doctors have refused to call off the nationwide strike even after the National Industrial Court, NIC ruling yesterday.

The NUC had ordered the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, and the government to suspend all forms of hostilities till September 15.

However, the National President of NARD, Dr. Osakhuesuyi Uyilawa, said yesterday that though his group was yet to be served with the court papers, the strike would go on, according to a report by Vanguard.

Justice John Targema had given the order after he heard an ex-parte application the government filed against the striking doctors.

Government had in the application, prayed the court to grant two interim injunctions against members of NARD in all the states of the federation, pending the determination of the suit marked NICN/ABJ/197/2021.

It specifically applied for: “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining members of the Defendant/Respondent in all states of the federation from further continuing with the industrial action embarked upon on the 2nd day of August 2021, contrary to section 41 of the Trade Dispute Act, pending the termination of the substantive suit.”

It also applied for “An order of interlocutory injunction compelling all members of the Defendant/Respondent in all states of the federation to suspend the said industrial action which commenced on the 2nd August 2021 and resume work immediately, pending the determination of the substantive suit”.

However, in his ruling yesterday, Justice Targema, instead of granting the prayer as it was couched, rather issued an order that was directed at both the Claimants (Federal Ministry of Health and FG) and the Defendant/Respondent (NARD).

The judge said: “Upon reading the motion ex-parte and affidavit sworn to by Ahmed Nasiru of the Federal Ministry of Health and after hearing D. E. Kaswe for the Applicants, it is, hereby, ordered that the Claimants/Applicants and the Defendant/Respondent suspend all forms of hostilities forthwith, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”

The court subsequently adjourned the matter to September 15 to hear the substantive matter, even as it ordered service of all the relevant processes on NARD.

The Federal Government had in its suit, argued that resident doctors embarked on strike without proper notice as provided by the extant law.

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It argued that members of NARD, being of “essential services providers”, are prohibited by law from embarking on strike.

“The continued and sustained industrial action by the Defendant/Respondent is contrary to public policy and equally endangers the lives of the citizenry,” it added.

Meanwhile, the order of the Industrial Court yesterday, came barely 24 hours after the federal government, the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, NARD and other stakeholders in the health sector, reportedly reached an agreement over the 12-point demands by the doctors.

NARD had embarked on the strike over alleged inability of the government to meet with its demands.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who is the federal government’s Conciliator-in-Chief, had earlier threatened to invoke the ‘no work, no pay’ policy in a bid to force the striking workers to suspend their ongoing strike.

We haven’t been served any court order — NARD President

Reacting to the order issued by the National Industrial Court, Abuja, yesterday, President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctor, Dr. Osakhuesuyi Uyilawa, said they were yet to receive any court order and could not, therefore, comment on the issue based on social media report.

“We have not been served any order from the National Industrial Court. We only saw it on social media and we cannot be commenting on something we saw on social media. If we eventually receive it, we will brief our lawyer first. “

Asked why they refused to sign the MOU between NARD and the Federal Government, he said: “How can you beat me and expect me not to cry? Nobody does that,” he stated.

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