Resident doctors ignore court ruling, file appeal

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), yesterday, communicated dismay with the verdict of the National Industrial Court that restricted its members from proceeding with the ongoing strike.

Accordingly, the association has notified its lawyers to appeal the ruling and file an application for stay of its execution.

According to Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi NARD President, the association would not call off the strike.

Yesterday, the National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja had ruled NARD to terminate the strike pending the conclusion of the substantive suit before it.

Justice Bashar Alkali, who gave the order while ruling on an application filed by the Federal Government in the suit against NARD, said that there was no quantity of money that would compensate for the loss of lives in the circumstance.

Therefore, he authorized members of the association nationwide to return to work.

However, in a statement jointly endorsed by the NARD President, Okhuaihesuyi; Secretary General, Jerry Isogun and the Publicity and Social Secretary, Dr. Dotun Oshikoya, the association said that its lawyers had debated in the court on 15/9/2021 that the court ought to hear and determine its notice of preliminary objection disputing its jurisdiction before taking the application for interlocutory injunction or any other application.

The NARD leaders argued that by the refusal of the court to hear and determine the association’s notice of preliminary objection before taking the government’s application for interlocutory injunction, the resident doctors had been denied fair hearing which is a fundamental right, and in the circumstances, had instructed its lawyers to file necessary processes.

“We are not satisfied with the ruling. After consultations with our lawyers, we have instructed them to appeal the ruling and file application for stay of execution.” The statement read.

“On 15/9/2021, the court reserved ruling on which application the court would take first. Our lawyers had argued in the court that the court ought to hear and determine our notice of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court before taking the application for interlocutory injunction or any other application. The court adjourned ruling on the argument on that issue to today. Today, the court ruled that it would take the government’s application for interlocutory injunction first and our NPO would be taken and determined along with the substantive suit.

“Also, our lawyers drew the attention of the court to our application for stay of execution of the ex parte order and that the court should take that application first. The court insisted that the government application would be taken first. On 15/9/21, the court ordered all parties to resume negotiations.

The government refused to resume negotiations in line with the order of 23/8/21. Our lawyers reported this development to the court. We have demonstrated good faith and would continue to do so.

“We urge all members to remain calm and resolute. Everything depends on our firm resolve. We are committed to protecting your rights within the confines of the law. We believe justice shall be ours ultimately.”

In its own response to the ruling, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment said it would proceed with leading the conciliation protocol of improving industrial peace in the country regardless of the outcomes of the litigation between it and NARD.

An official of the ministry, who stated this in Abuja, yesterday, explained that resolving areas of disagreement would still require compromising and shifting of grounds for an enduring industrial atmosphere in the health sector.

The official, who preferred anonymity, contended that in industrial relations, there are no victors and there are no vanquished.

“The tasks assigned to the ministry is to ensure there is industrial peace in the country. The ministry does not have enemies. Everyone that operates within the industrial space is our friend. Every action taken by unions is within their rights and in context of striving for a better life for their members. This is a fact that the ministry recognises. So, while we welcome the pronouncement, the ministry does not see it as victory for any particular person or group, but a route that will pave way for constructive engagement that will lead to final resolution of the industrial conflict,” he said.

In the same vein, both the Federal Government and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) are anticipated to proceed their negotiation on the proposed new hazard allowance for doctors working in government-owned hospitals next week.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige disclosed this Tuesday night after a marathon meeting of the Presidential Committee on Salaries with the leadership of NMA and its affiliates on the review of the hazard allowance in the health sector.

Ngige recollected that they commenced the discussion with all the health workers since March but along the line, NMA opposed the fundamental principles of negotiation with the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU).

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