The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) on Saturday confirmed receiving an order of interim injunction from the National Industrial Court compelling it to immediately resume duties.
Addressing an emergency news conference on behalf of the national body of JOHESU in Abuja, Godwin Okara, the chairman, Assembly of Healthcare Professionals Association, said the notice was served on the union at 5.39 p.m on Friday (May 25).
Mr Okara explained that the briefing was aimed at updating the media and the general public on the latest developments affecting the industrial action.
“An Order of Interim Injunction compelling JOHESU to immediately resume duties was just served on JOHESU at 5.39 pm on Friday May 25.
“We have the greatest respect and regard for the judiciary of our country Nigeria.
“It has always proved to be the bulwark of our democracy, the last hope of the common man and the flagship of the vanguard for law and order in human society,” he said.
However, Mr Okara noted that JOHESU had before the receipt of the NIC order filed court processes before the same court and the Court of Appeal on May 21, challenging the locus standi of the Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International, an NGO, and the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.
He described the suit as a calculated attempt by the Federal Ministry of Health and the NGO to demonise JOHESU through sustained misinformation and falsehood.
Mr Okara explained that JOHESU decided to seek legal redress when it noticed that there was an intention by the parties to tarnish the image of its members on the mass media when they have not received any court order.
“JOHESU had before the receipt of this Court Order filed Court Processes in the National Industrial Court and the Court of Appeal on the 21st of May, 2018, challenging the locus standi of the NGO and the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.
“The move is a follow up to the calculated attempt to demonise JOHESU through sustained misinformation and falsehood by the Federal Ministry of Health and the Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International, an NGO, that is neither our employer nor a party to the agreement JOHESU signed with Government.
“The NGO has constituted itself into a meddlesome interloper,” Mr Okara said.
The NIC had on May 17 allegedly ordered striking members of JOHESU to suspend its on-going strike, and resume work across the nation within 24 hours.
Juustice Babatunde Adejumo, president of the NIC, gave the order after listening to the submissions of Okere Nnamdi, in an ex-parte motion filed by the NGO, Incorporated Trustees of Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International.
The NGO in the motion prayed the court to order the workers to restore normal healthcare services and go back to negotiation table.
Mr Okara also expressed concern over the persistent attempts by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) to misinform the public through malicious fabrication of accusation and blatant lies that JOHESU members had locked up theatres, consulting rooms, laboratories and wards.
“It beats imagination that NMA will go to any ridiculous length in giving bad names to a dog in order to hang it,’’ he said.
He dismissed insinuations by the NMA that their members were intimidated by JOHESU officials and hospital authorities lack the power to keep the gates and doors of health facilities open.
According to him, JOHESU members have conducted themselves with the highest degree of restraint and discipline in the face of provocation and double-dealing by the Federal Ministry of Health and NMA.
But the AHPA chairman commended the leadership of the Senate for its recent intervention aimed at ensuring full and amicable resolution of the crisis.
Mr Okara also appreciated all men and women of good conscience that have lend their voices of reason to JOHESU’s struggle for improved healthcare facilities in the country.
Mr Okara urged members of JOHESU to sustain the strike pending the outcome of national consultative meetings with states and zonal leaders of the union to review the latest situation and decide on the next line of action on May 27 and 28 in Abuja, respectively.
The JOHESU official therefore urged the Federal Government to implement the agreement reached with the union on September 30, 2017, to avoid further loss of lives.