Friday, 25 May 2012

Court Rejects Lagos State Government’s Attempt to Stop Striking Doctors’ Suit

The National Industrial Court, Lagos has given its backing to a suit filed by the sacked 788 doctors by rejecting an application by the Lagos State Government seeking to terminate the suit. Following this ruling, the matter can now proceed to trial.

The Chairman and General Secretary of Lagos State Medical Guild, Dr. Olumuyiwa Odusote and Dr. Idris Durojaiye respectively, had instituted the suit against the state government for themselves and on behalf of the Lagos State Medical Guild.

Following this, the Lagos state government filed an objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear it. However, Justice Benedict Kanyip affirmed the competence of the suit yesterday, saying the subject-matter of the suit centered on industrial disputes.

According to him, “the jurisdiction of this court lies in the National Industrial Court Act and Section 245(c) of the 1999 Constitution that allows it to adjudicate on labour matters related to wages, strike or dispute between employers and employees.”

Kanyip ruled that although the Medical Guild was not a registered trade union as claimed by the government, it was too late in the day for them to say so as they had always dealt with it as a body.

The judge said even if the Medical Guild had failed as a juristic body that could sue, the two doctors who had sued on behalf of the guild could sue because they were persons who were allowed by law to do so. “Take away the Medical Guild, what we have are two natural persons who have the power to sue and be sued. I hold that the court has jurisdiction to hear the matter and the suit is competent.”

He also dismissed the contention by the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, that the court should refuse to hear the doctors’ suit for its alleged failure to disclose any reasonable cause of action.

Ipaye had said there was no agreement with the Medical Guild for the implementation of the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale, and such there was no basis for the suit.

Justice Kanyip said, “I am of the view that the suit is suitable and can be sustained, whether it succeeds comes after we go into the merit of the case. I think that justice of this court will give the parties the opportunity to hear this matter not to shut out the claimants as requested by the respondents.”

“I hereby hold that the suit is competent and that the court has the jurisdiction to hear the case. The objection is dismissed and no cost is awarded to the claimants.” He adjourned the case to June 19, for trial.

What do you think about the Lagos state government’s attempt to stop the suit? Who stands a better chance of having victory in this case – the sacked doctors or the Lagos state government?

Please share your thoughts.
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