The National Industrial Court has ordered resident doctors to suspend the ongoing industrial action and return back to their duty post pending the determination of the substantive suit.
Aside from ordering the doctors to suspend the protracted strike, the court also directed the doctors and Federal Government, including other concerned parties to return to the negotiating table.
The presiding judge, Justice Bashar Alkali, while delivering his judgement on an application by the Federal Government on Friday, held that there was no amount of money that would compensate for the loss of lives while the doctors were away from their duty post.
Earlier, counsel to the apex government, Tochukwu Maduka, moved his motion for interlocutory injunction and prayed the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendant from continuing with the industrial action pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
He argued that the resident doctors are persons who provide essential services and cannot embark on strike as continuing to do so would bring untoward hardship to citizens.
Counsel to the resident doctors, Femi Aborishade, while opposing the application for interlocutory injunction, urged the court to discountenance their application, arging that the life of the medical doctors were not less useful than the life an average human being.
He further pointed out that justice must be balanced, not just to the government, but also to the doctors who are the field marshals battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both parties had on September 15 told the judge that they were set to negotiate and give the court an update by Friday. But the process of negotiation and possible settlement failed, leading to today’s judgement.
Speaking shortly after the ruling, counsel to the doctors, said that he would advise his clients on the available options of appeal, adding that he would ensure the professionals do not disobey court orders.
However, while reacting to the ruling, the medical doctors, under the umbrella of National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) faulted the judgement directing its members to resume to their duty post and end its ongoing industrial action nationwide.
The doctors argued that the ruling was allegedly discriminatory to the plights of medical professionals, particularly their welfare which determines their motivation to be productive while on official assignments, adding that irrespective of the situation, they have rights to demand fairly.
The professionals, through a communique jointly signed by NARD President, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, and the union’s Secretary-General, Dr Jerry Isogun, on Friday, noted that they association have begun the process to appeal the ruling.
“As we are all aware, especially those that were present in court today (Friday), the NIC has given a ruling on the application for interlocutory injunction filed by the Federal Government. We are not satisfied with the ruling.
“After consultations with our lawyers, we have instructed our lawyers to appeal the ruling and file an application for stay of execution,” the communique read in part.