The National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja has restrained the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, from reviewing downward the salaries and allowances of members of Association of Specialist Medical Doctors in Academics (ASMEDA).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the claimants; Dr Christopher Sakpa, Dr Momoh Mcsionel, Dr Ahmed Rabiu and Dr Darlington Akukwu had, for themselves and on behalf of the affected members of ASMEDA.
The Defendants are the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission; Accountant-General of the Federation and Minister of Finance to court as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.
Justice Osatohanmwen Obaseki-Osaghae, in a ruling on an ex-parte motion moved by counsel to the claimants, Martin Agba, held that the order of interim injunction would subsist pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
Justice Obaseki-Osaghae restrained all the defendants from acting on the contents of the April 22, letter issued by the salaries commission, pending the determination of the suit.
She also made “an order of interim injunction, restraining the defendants from paying the claimants’ July 2021 salary and subsequent months’ salaries based on the CONUASS and associated allowances pending the determination of the motion on notice.
“A mandatory order of interim injunction on the defendants to pay the claimants’ July 2021 salary and subsequent months’ salaries based on the CONMESS and associated allowances as approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria on Sept. 29, 2009 which is the status quo as at April, 2021, pending the determination of the motion on notice.”
The judge, who ordered that the originating processes, motion on notice together with hearing notices be served on the defendants, adjourned the matter until Oct. 14 for hearing of the motion on notice.
NAN reports that in a motion on notice marked: NICN/ABJ/145/2021 dated July 8 and filed July 12 by Agba, the applicants sought some claims against the defendants.
They asked the court to declare that: “the commission’s letter of April 22, to the Accountant General with reference number: SWC/S/04/S.410/T/86 directing enrolment of the claimants into the Consolidated University Academic Salary Structure (CONUASS) and associated allowances is a violation of the presidential directive of Sept. 29, 2009.
They argued that the Federal Government approved and placed the claimants on the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) and associated allowances and therefore has no legal basis, is null and void and of no effect whatsoever, should be discountenanced and_ retracted forthwith.
They also sought an order of mandatory injunction, directing the defendants to restore the claimants to the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) and associated allowances as approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria on Sept. 29, 2009 and with which the claimants have previously for long been paid their salaries until April 2021.
They further sought an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the defendants from using, giving effect, making reference to or in any way acting on the contents of the said letter of April 22.
They also sought for an order of the court, directing the defendants to pay the differential sum in salaries between CONMESS and associated allowances and CONUASS // paid to the claimants from May 2021 until date of delivery of final judgment in this suit.”
The claimants, who sought the order of the court, directing the defendants to pay the sum of N50 million to them as general and exemplary damages for deliberate breach of extant policy of government by their stoppage of payment of CONMESS and associated allowances, also prayed the court to direct them to pay N3 million as cost of the legal action.
NAN reports that the Federal Government had, on Sept. 29, 2009 in a circular with reference number: SWC/S/04/S.410/220, approved the new salary structure for medical and dental officers in the federal public service known as CONMESS.
However, in a a letter with reference number: SWC/S/04/S.410/T/86 dated April 22, addressed to the Accountant-General of the Federation and signed by the acting Director, Compensation, Adighiogu Chiadi, on behalf of its chairman, the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission directed that medical doctors in academics and research institutions should be re-enrolled on CONUASS.
The claimants averred that since the latest directive took effect, their take-home pay had reduced drastically by about 60 per cent.