Court Refuses FG’s Prayer to Halt Doctors’ Strike; Instead Orders Parties to Suspend Hostilities


THE Abuja Division of the National Industrial Court presided over by the Honourable Justice John Targema on Monday rejected an application by the federal government to order striking members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to resume work.

Dr Okhuaihesuyi, NARD President.

NARD began its indefinite strike three weeks ago on Monday, August 2, 2021. Media reports over the weekend have it that both the federal government and NARD, in the presence of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) had reached an amicable settlement, but the resident doctors were reportedly not satisfied with a particular clause in the agreement and therefore refused to suspend the strike.

At the court on Monday, Justice Targema instead turned down governments prayers to call of the strike and ordered the parties “to suspend all forms of hostilities and maintain status quo,” the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

According to NAN, the Monday ruling was on an ex-parte application jointly filed by the federal government and the Federal Ministry of Health.

“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 said on Monday.

This is the second time Justice Targema would be refusing to order NARD to resume work, with this ruling coming about four days after he had rejected a similar call by a civil society organisation, Rights for All International, last Thursday when he held that he could not issue such a restraining order against the resident doctors in their absence. He said granting the group’s application would amount to violating the resident doctors’ right to fair hearing.

The government’s application, being an ex-parte motion like that of the CSO’s, was similarly heard by the judge in the absence of NARD on Monday. The judge, after declining to grant the specific orders sought by the government, ordered that hearing notice be issued to the defendant, along with other processes which included the originating summons. He ordered that the proof of service be kept in the case file before the next adjourned date.

Justice Targema then adjourned the matter till September 15 for hearing of the motion on notice “and/or any other pending application on its merit.”

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