Court strikes out FG’s suit against resident doctors

By Glory Abuh-Adejoh

 The National Industrial Court, Abuja, on Thursday struck out a  suit filed by the Federal Government against the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors ( NARD)

Joined as a co-claimant in the suit is the Federal Ministry of health.

The suit is challenging NARD for embarking on industrial action from June to Sept. 2021 was slated for hearing in Thursday’s proceeding.

However, when the case was called,  neither the claimants nor their legal representatives were not in court.

The defendant counsel, Bright Egualeona on his part informed the court that they had filed a notice of preliminary objection dated Aug. 25,2021 and filed Aug.31,2021.

He further stated that the preliminary objection was in respond to the claimants originating process and that the claimants had not filed any process in reply to the preliminary objection.

The counsel in addition therefore urged the court to strike out the suit for lack of diligent prosecution on the part of the claimants.

The judge, Justice Benedict Kanyip after listening to the submission of the counsel said “Given the absence of the claimants for the second time and the defendant does not have a counterclaim, this suit is hereby struck out”.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on the last adjourned date of Feb. 16, the matter could not proceed due to the absence of parties and their legal representatives in court.

The judge had therefore stated “the matter is slated for hearing and neither are parties nor their representatives are in court despite been served hearing notice.

” Given the importance of this matter, the court is giving the parties another opportunity”, the judge ruled.

The matter was adjourned until Thursday and was subsequently struck out when the claimants were still absent.

NAN also report that the suit was instituted by the claimants by way of exparte motion and motion on notice on Aug.23,2021 seeking an interlocutory injunction compelling the striking doctors to suspend the strike it embarked on Aug. 2, 2021.

The claimants application also sought for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining members of the respondent in all States of the Federation from further continuing with the industrial action embarked on Aug. 2, 2021.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that  the resident doctors had on Aug. 1, 2021 began  the strike over irregular payment of salaries, among other issues.

Efforts by the House of Representatives to mediate between the federal government and NARD ended in a deadlock.

The federal government then instituted a suit against the association, asking the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining members of NARD from continuing with the action.

NAN reports that the court had in a ruling on Aug. 23, 2021 ordered all the parties to “suspend all forms of hostilities” pending determination of the suit by FG marked NICN/ABJ/197/2021.

The court, in another ruling last Wednesday, adjourned to enable the parties to pursue an out-of–court settlement. (NAN)