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Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has expressed sadness on the failure of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to comply with the court order directing them to suspend their strike and resume, describing their action as contempt of court.
Africa Today News, New York gathered that the National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja had on Friday ordered the doctors to resume work while continuing with its negotiations with the Federal Government.
Justice Bashar Alkali made the order on Friday while ruling on an application by the Federal Government in the suit against NARD.
The doctors had refused to resume, stating that they would appeal the order.
However, responding to a question on the development while speaking on a television programme, ‘Politics Today,’ on Sunday which was monitored by Africa Today News, New York, Ngige stated that NARD earlier submitted 8,000 names which was later pruned down to 5,000, noting that some doctors were recruited into service despite the embargo on recruitment.
Reacting to claims by a NARD official, Dr Julian Ojebo’s that the NARD would not suspend the strike, Ngige said, ‘That is contemptuous. That is contempt of the court decision.
‘We will not bow down against contempt but I’m not interested in those things. It is the Minister of Health and Attorney-General that can be looking into those things. My take is to invite them back and show them the degree of implementation of the MoU they signed in my office. They refused to sign but their parent body, NMA signed, consultants association signed, and others.’
He denied that the Federal Government took a loan from the World Bank to settle the doctors, adding that questions on the borrowing should be directed to the Minister of Finance.
The minister said he has been discussing with the lawyer to the doctors, Femi Falana, SAN, on amicable settlement, but noted that NARD appeared to have many lawyers who wished to prolong the crisis.
He noted, ‘I have been speaking with their lawyer, Femi Falana but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to me only Femi Falana that on this case.
‘I spoke to him on Thursday and I know what we agreed on for them to come and sign the Memorandum of Understanding. I am not a lawyer but I have been going to court. No matter how bad a court order is, you obey it. An appeal doesn’t act as stay (of execution).’
When asked if he would withdraw the case, Ngige said he was just a conciliator, adding that only the health minister and the AGF could withdraw the suit.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK