The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), has defied a ruling by the National Industrial Court (NIC), directing the aggrieved doctors who have been on strike for over one month, to resume work immediately, pending when a substantive suit was determined.
The doctors, who are adamant on continuing with the strike until their demands were met, had accused the court of violating their fundamental rights as a union, by denying them a fair hearing at the court proceedings on Friday in Abuja. A statement signed by NARD’s President, Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, Secretary General, Dr. Jerry Isogun and Publicity and Social Secretary, Dr. Dotun Oshikoya and made available to newsmen on Friday in Abuja, noted that their counsel has been instructed to appeal the court judgement. According to leadership of NARD, the Court had consistently refused to take its Notice of Preliminary Objection (NPO), which ought to come first before Government’s Application for interlocutory injunction.
The statement reads: “The NIC has given a Ruling on the application for interlocutory injunction filed by the Federal Government. We are not satis-fied with the Ruling. “After consultations with our lawyers, we have instructed our lawyers to appeal the Ruling and file application for stay of execution. On 15/9/2021, the court reserved ruling on which Application the court would take first.
“Our lawyers had argued in the Court on 15/9/2021 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. “By the refusal of the court to hear and determine our Notice of Preliminary Objection before taking the Government’s Application for Interlocutory injunction, we believe we have been denied fair hearing which is a fundamental right. “In the circumstances, we have instructed our lawyers to file necessary processes. 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.” Earlier on Thursday night, the leadership of NARD had walked out on the Federal Government after series of breakout sessions and consultations, during a meeting aimed at reaching an out – of – court agreement ahead of Friday’s hearing before the NIC.
The court had on Wednesday asked lawyers to both parties to find an amicable resolution to the strike that had paralysed hospitals for weeks. However, after over three hours of another round of meeting at the instance of Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, both parties had failed to reach an understanding. Ngige, who spoke to newsmen after the meeting, disclosed that the government would harmonise the old Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the striking doctors. He said: “What we propose to do was to see if we can do some addendum to that old MoU because some of the things there have been overtaken by timelines. Unfortunately we have not been able to cross the Ts and dot the Is there. “We have given them some time to go and consult with their lawyers because tomorrow is court. “They have time now to go. You can see the government side is here and we are waiting for our own lawyers to come so that we will discuss. “We are not reopening negotiation. We are looking at the ways by which the court can be told that there is a room for settlement or for further negotiation.”