The National Industrial Court, Abuja, on Friday, ordered the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to suspend its 46 days strike and return to work immediately.
The court also ordered that parties should return to the negotiation table to resolve their differences.
The judge, Bashar Alkali, in his ruling, said: “I hereby make an order for interlocutory injunction restraining members of the respondent in all States of the Federation from further continuing with the industrial action embarked on Aug. 2.
“I also make an order of interlocutory injunction compelling all members of the respondent in all States of the Federation to suspend the said industrial action it commenced on August 2″, the judge said.
Alkali further stated that the court had one issue to resolve in the matter and that was whether or not the claimant’s application met the requirement on which an interlocutory injunction were made.
He stated one of the grounds which such requirement application must be made was in the circumstance that if not granted, serious damages to lives could occur.
He, therefore, said that lives had been lost since the commencement of the strike, especially in regards to Covid-19 Delta variant, hence the need to grant the claimant’s application.
The judge urged the claimants to grant some if not all of the defendant’s demand at the negotiation table.
The federal government on Friday informed the national industrial court that attempts to resolve the ongoing strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have failed.
Recall that the court had on Wednesday admonished parties to explore means of negotiations after NARD agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the federal government.
Counsel representing the federal government on Friday at the court session said all attempts by the claimant to reach an agreement have failed.
“My instruction this morning is that settlement on this matter has failed. There was an attempt but parties could not agree. In view of this, we urge my lord to proceed to deliver the ruling on the pending applications,” he said.
Responding, Femi Aborisade, counsel to the resident doctors, said: “We want to put it on the record that in line with the court’s direction, the defendants demonstrated good faith.”
“The ministry of labour invited the president of the defendant to a meeting yesterday. The aides to the minister gave the president (of NARD) an addendum to the original memorandum of understanding (MoU). The addendum shows that the timeline for the MoU has elapsed.
“In return, the president (of NARD) gave the aides a document containing the proposed terms of settlement which is similar to the addendum of the claimant.
“The president (of NARD) upon a recognition that the timelines in the original MoU have lapsed and there is need to set new timelines. Upon the receipt of the proposed terms of settlement by the minister, the minister asked the aides to tell the president (of NARD) that the government would be consulting its lawyers.
“The defendant in the circumstance felt that the claimant ought to have called for a meeting as directed by the court to reconcile the differences in the timelines.
“My lord in the interest of the masses of Nigerians who have no means to go abroad for medical care, we ask the court to order the claimant to go to the negotiations to reconcile the differences in the two addenda.
“There should be no authority that is above the court. Should they refuse, the defendant is equally ready to match them.”
However, Maduka said the resident doctors were “not disputing any other issue in the MoU. They had agreed to sign. My learned friend confirmed that the only issue was the timeline. But the defendant came up with an entirely different agreement, what they called terms of settlement, bringing entirely different issues that were not in the original MoU”.
He added that a meeting was called but the defendant walked out of the meeting.
But Aborisade insisted that no meeting was called.
Delivering a brief ruling, Bashar Alkali, the judge, asked the federal government to move its interlocutory applications.
He said the case file will be reassigned by the President of the court and a new date for hearing of the substantive suit will be communicated to parties.
The claimants, Ministry of Health and the Federal Government through the Ministry of Labour had approached the court through a motion on notice dated August 18 and filed August 21.
The application, which was predicated on three grounds, had in support a 10-paragraph affidavit, filed with a written address and was attached with four annexes.
The claimants in its application had sought for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining and compelling members of the respondent in all States of the Federation from further continuing and suspending the industrial action embarked on August 2.
The defendant in response had also filed a 17-page counter affidavit with a written address filed on August 31.
The defendant had urged the court to disregard the claimants’ application as the demand for the protection of its members was equally important.