The striking resident doctors across the country have been ordered by the National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja to resume work with immediate effect.
Justice Bashar Alkali on Friday based his judgement on the prevailing health crisis in Nigeria and the need for the doctors to resume duties as essential workers to curtail the wave of COVID-19.
The doctors went on strike on August 1 to protest against inadequate allowances, irregular payment of salaries, among others.
Ruling on the application, Justice Bashar Alkali said the counsel for the Nigerian government, Tochukwu Maduka was “able to show that unless this application is granted, so many Nigerians will lose their lives, most especially as the country is experiencing an upsurge in this third wave of COVID-19 with increasing fatality arising from the absence of the defendants from hospitals”.
“It is my firm believe that if the court does not intervene at this stage, there is no amount of money that can compensate for the lives of Nigerians who would lose their lives if the members of the defendants continue with their strike.
“I find the application meritorious and I resolve the lone issue for determination in favour of the claimant applicant,” the judge held.
He continued, “I grant all the prayers as contained in the face of the motion paper and in effect, I hereby grant an order of interlocutory injunction that members of the defendant respondent in all the states of the federation are hereby restrained from continuing with the industrial action embarked on since on the second day of August 2021 pending the determination of the substantive suit.
“Also, I hereby order all members of the defendants/respondents in all the states of the federation to suspend the said industrial action commenced on the second day of August 2021 with immediate effect and to resume work immediately pending the determination of the substantive suit.”
In an earlier 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 hearing of the motion on notice and/or any other pending application on its merit.