Ongoing Strike: “Resume Work Or Go To Jail” — Court Blows Hot, Threatens Doctors

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A National Industrial Court in Nigeria has ordered striking members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to resume work or risk being jailed.

In a court document obtained by SaharaReporters, the Federal Government of Nigeria and Federal Ministry of Health were judgement creditors while members of NARD alongside the association’s president, secretary general and Crown Prince were judgment debtors.

In the document issued on September 3, the court also asked the striking members to suspend all forms of hostilities else they will be guilty of contempt of court and “liable to be committed to prison”. 

The document read, “In the national industrial court of Nigeria in the Abuja judicial division hodlen at Abuja

“Between Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Government of Nigeria as Judgement Creditors and Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors as Judgement Debtors

“In the matter of an application for commital proceedings for disobediemce to court order against Dr. Okhuaihesum Uyilawa, President of NARD; Dr Jerry K Isogun, Secretary General, NARD; Dr Dare Godiya Ishaya, Crown Prince NARD and NARD members.

“Take notice that unless you obey the directives contained in a ruling delivered on the 23rd August, 2021 by Honourable Justice J.I Targema Ph.D to wit:

“It is hereby ordered that the Claimant/Applicant and the Defendants/Respondents suspend all goes of hostilities forthwith pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice. 

“And other orders made in respect of this suit against the judgement debtors. 

“And this honourable court having delivered its ruling, it is hereby ordered as described above. 

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“Further take notice that the enrolment order of the court is attached herewith. 

“You will be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison. 

“Dated this 3rd day of September 2021.

“This form was issued by D. E. Kaswe Esq of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Shehu Shagari Way, Maitama Abuja.”

The doctors went on strike on August 1 to protest against inadequate allowances, irregular payment of salaries, among others.

In a ruling on August 23, Justice John Targema, directed all parties in the suit to suspend all forms of hostilities and return to status quo pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

He said: “Having looked especially on the affidavit of extreme urgency, the grounds of the application, the affidavit in support of same and arguments of counsel for the applicant. I also weighed the submissions and arguments of counsel on the law as it stands on this application.

“It is hereby ordered that claimant/applicant and the defendant/respondent suspend all forms of hostilities forthwith pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”

The judge ordered that a hearing notice and other processes should be served on the defendant, including the originating summons. 

Targema adjourned the matter to September 15 for a hearing of the motion on notice and/or any other pending application on its merit.

However, a source said the Nigerian government had gone to court behind the doctors and obtained the exparte motion against the doctors. 

The enrolment of order read, “upon this motion ex parte dated on 18th day of August 2021, coming up before this court, praying for the following orders, 

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“1.An order of interlocutory injunction restraining members of the defendants/respondents in all States of the federation from further continuing with the industrial action embarked on the 2nd day of August, 2021 contrary to the section 41 of the Trade Dispute Act Pending the termination of the Substantive suit.

“An order of interlocutory injunction compelling all members of the defendant/respondent in all States of the federation to suspend the said industrial action commenced on the 2nd August, 2021 and resume work immediately pending the determination of the substantive suit. 

“And for such further order or orders as this honourable court may deem fit to make in the circumstances. 

“Upon reading the motion exparte and affidavit in support sworn to by Ahmed Nasiru, Male, Muslim, Adult and Nigerian citizen of the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja and after hearing D.E Kaswe Esq for the applicant who moved in terms of the motion papers. 

“It is hereby ordered that the claimant/applicant and the defendant/respondents suspend all forms of hostilities forthwith pending the hearing and determination of the motion on Notice.

“This matter is accordingly adjourned to 15th September 2021 for Hearing of the motion on Notice and or any other pending Application. Hearing notice and the originating process he issued and served on the defendant/respondent. 

“Proof of service of same be filed in the case file before the next adjourned date.”

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