Nigerian Court Orders Resident Doctors to Suspend Strike

The Abuja Division of the National Industrial Court (NIC) has ordered the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to suspend its ongoing nationwide strike, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment has said.

According to a statement by the ministry’s spokesperson, Charles Akpan, the court presided by Justice John Targema gave the order on Monday afternoon.

This followed an ex-parte motion filed on Friday last week by the Federal Ministry of Health, seeking an order of interlocutory injunction restraining members of NARD from further continuing the industrial action pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The health ministry stated that the strike which began on August 2 was contrary to Section 41 of the Trade Dispute Act.

The motion brought under Suit No: NICN/ABJ/197/2021 has the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Government as first and second claimants/applicants and NARD as the only defendant/respondent.

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During proceedings on Monday, according to Akpan, the court heard the motion ex-parte and affidavit in support sworn by the Director of Legal Services at the health ministry, Ahmed Nasiru.

He revealed that Justice Targema granted an order of interlocutory injunction, compelling all members of the defendants/respondents in all the states of the Federation to suspend the industrial action and resume work immediately, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

“The court held that the continued downing of tools by the striking doctors have inflicted a lot of damage on the health system and the sick, especially in this perilous time of COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.

“Targema further ordered that the claimant/applicant and the defendant/respondent suspend all forms of hostilities forthwith pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

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“The judge adjourned the matter to September 15, 2021, for the hearing of the motion on notice and any other pending application.

In his reaction, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, described the court ruling as a welcome development.

He, however, reassured the affected doctors that the ruling would not prevent the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget Office of the Federation (BOF), Office of the Head of Service of the Federation (OHOCSF) and the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages and Commission (NSIWC) from the implementation of the agreements contained in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached at the last meeting with the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and affiliate associations with timelines affixed to them.

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The NMA had led three doctors’ associations to the negotiation that lasted several hours on Friday after a series of negotiations between the government and the doctors failed.

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