The National Industrial Court, Abuja, has fixed Friday for ruling in a suit between the striking members of Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors ( NARD) and the Federal Government, as they agreed to negotiate.
The judge, Justice Bashar Alkali fixed the date, after listening to the parties’ counsel make their submissions which bordered on court jurisdiction and contempt proceeding.
The judge in addition said before the next adjourned date parties should return to negotiation table as stated by the counsel.
When the matter which was slated for hearing of applications came up, the claimant’s counsel, Tochukwu Maduka, SAN, informed the court that subject to its convenience, they were ready to take their motion on notice, which had been filed with motion ex-exparte.
The defendant’s counsel, Femi Falana, SAN, in his response said that the claimant came behind his client’s back to approach the court for accelerated hearing in the matter which was initially adjourned until Sept. 22.
He added that the application was granted and hearing of motion on notice and pending applications were therefore set to be taken.
In addition, he said that they had filed and served an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court.
He argued that the application should take top priority before any other application.
He also said that the application should be taken since the claimant did not challenge the application served on them by way of counter-affidavit in a written address.
Maduka however, objected that although applications were slated to be taken, he informed the court that there was contempt proceeding for committal filed on Sept.14 before the court that ought to be taken before any other application.
He said that the committal proceeding application was for the refusal of the claimant to obey court order.
He said that where issue of contempt is raised in law, it ought to take top priority before the issue of jurisdiction.
He added that the law stated that in any suit commenced by way of originating summon, the issue of jurisdiction should be taken together with the substantive suit.
He further submitted that they had not been served with the application challenging the jurisdiction of the court.
The court said that the proof of service was before the court dated Sept. 1.
Maduka at this point, therefore, urged the court to give them time in order to respond to the defendant’s preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court.
Falana in his response said that there was no committal application before the court, he stated that what the claimant’s counsel was referring to as committal proceeding should be Form 86 which is for refusal to obey order.
Falana said Form 86 ought to be followed by Form 87 which will be for a party to appear before the court to show cause why they should not be committed to prison for contempt in Order 86, Rule 2 and 3 of the court.
In concluding his argument, Falana prayed the court to make an order to direct the parties to return to the negotiation table, in line with the previous order as granted by the court ordering parties to cease all forms of hostilities.
Maduka however, stated that parties had been to Arbitration Panel but however, the negotiation fell.
According to him, that despite court order that parties should cease hostilities, that the defendant had refused to return to work. He further stated that they were opened to negotiation.
Falana on his part assured the court that his client was ready to cease hostility and return to negotiation table.
The News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) reports that the claimants, Ministry of Health, and the Federal Government through the Ministry of Labour had earlier approached the court through an ex-parte motion praying for some order of the court.
The claimants had 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.
Another order as sought by the applicants was for an order of interlocutory injunction compelling all members of the respondent in all States of the Federation to suspend the said industrial action it commenced on Aug. 2.
The court therefore on Aug.23 granted an order directing parties to cease all forms of hostilities and adjourned until Wednesday to take motion on notice.