The National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) this afternoon ordered the striking members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to resume work immediately.

The order was made following an Ex-parte motion filed last week Friday by the Federal Ministry of Health, seeking for an order of interlocutory injunction, restraining members of NARD from further continuing the industrial action they embarked upon on August 2, 2021, contrary to Section 41 of the Trade Dispute Act, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The motion brought under Suit No: NICN/ABJ/197/2021 has the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Government as 1st and 2nd Claimants/Applicants and NARD as the only Defendant/Respondent.

Upon hearing the motion Ex-parte and affidavit in support sworn by Ahmed Nasiru, the Director of Legal Services, Federal Ministry of Health, the presiding judge, Justice J.I Targema granted an order of interlocutory injunction, compelling all members of the Defendants/Respondents in all the States of the Federation to suspend the said industrial action commenced on August 2, 2021, 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 times of COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

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

Reacting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Dr Chris Ngige who first conciliated the issue between the NARD and their employers, the Federal Ministry of Health, described the court ruling as a welcome development.

Ngige however reassured the affected doctors that the ruling will 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.

NMA had led three doctors associations to the negotiation that lasted from 2pm on Friday, August 20, 2021 to the early hours of Saturday, August 21, adjourning 2.am and later resumed by 2pm and finally ending by 10.pm.

Charles Akpan

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