Court directs FG, NARD to proceed with suit as negotiation to end doctors' strike fails

The FG wants doctors to suspend the ongoing industrial action it commenced on August 2.

President Muhammadu Buhari (left) with the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige (right) [BBC]

The National Industrial Court, Abuja, on Friday directed the Federal Government and the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors ( NARD) to proceed with their applications due to failure to reach definite terms of settlement.

The court in addition ruled that the claimant could proceed with its motion on notice on interlocutory injunction and directed that the defendant’s preliminary objection would be taken along with the substantive suit when the case file is reassigned by the President of the court.

Justice Bashar Alkali delivered the ruling after the parties stated that negotiation as advised by the court had failed.

The claimant’s counsel, Tochukwu Maduka, SAN, informed the court that parities met, but that however, that the defendant came up with a different document titled "terms of settlement".

He added that the document contained issues entirely different from what was in the original MoU.

Maduka in addition said that the claimants came to the meeting with an addendum MoU as the timeline on the original one had elapsed as it was prepared on August 28.

Femi Aborishade, the defence counsel, on his part submitted that the proposed terms of settlement was predicated upon in recognition that the timelines in the original MoU had elapsed.

The counsel also said that there was need to set new timelines and that the claimant ought to have sought for a meeting in order to reconcile the differences in the timelines.

Aborishade further urged the court to invoke Section 20 of NICN proceeding to order the claimants to go into negotiation with the defendant.

Aborishade equally averred that as stipulated by law, their preliminary objection should be taken before the claimants motion on notice.

He added that there was an order made by the court on August 23 that stated that motion on notice and other pending applications will be taken on September 15, therefore that their preliminary objection should be taken and not with the substantive suit.

The judge however refused the application and said that the order was made on August 23 and the defence filed its preliminary objection on August 31.

He said therefore that the pending applications as stated by the court did not include preliminary objection that was not in existence then.

Alkali in addition directed Maduka to move his application on motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

The claimants application is seeking for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining members of the respondent in all States of the Federation from further continuing with the industrial action embarked on August 2.

Another order the claimants are seeking is for 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 after listening to the Maduka’s application and defence counter affidavit on the application, stepped down the matter for ruling.

The News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) reports that the claimants, Ministry of Health, and the Federal Government through the Ministry of Labour had earlier approached the court through an ex-parte motion praying for some order of the court.

The claimants had sought for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining members of the respondent in all States of the Federation from further continuing with the industrial action embarked on August 2.

Another order as sought by the applicants was for 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 court therefore on August 23 granted an order directing parties to cease all forms of hostilities and adjourned until Wednesday to take motion on notice.

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