The National Industrial Court (NIC) on Thursday held that it had jurisdiction to entertain the suit filed by the Medical Guild against the Lagos State Government.
Delivering ruling on a preliminary objection filed by the state government challenging the court’s jurisdiction, Justice Benedict Kanyip said that the subject matter of the suit centred on industrial disputes.
“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,’’ he said.
Kanyip held that although the Medical Guild was not a registered trade union as claimed by the state government, it was too late in the day for them to say so as they had always dealt with the it as a body.
The judge said that 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.
“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 said.
Justice Kanyip consequently adjourned the case to June 19, for trial.
Two doctors, Olumuyiwa Odusote and Idris Durojaiye, had filed the suit on behalf of the guild, challenging the state government for breach of agreement and the issuance of queries to doctors for embarking on a warning strike.
The doctors had gone on strike on April 24, asking the government to implement an agreement it reached with them in April 2011.
On May 7, the state government sacked 788 doctors for what it termed “illegal absence from duty and failure to reply to the queries it issued to them”.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, the Lagos State Health Service Commission and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital Management Board are joined as co-defendants in the suit.