The National Industrial Court has struck out an application by the Lagos State Government asking the court to dismiss a suit filed against the government by the 788 sacked striking doctors.
The 788 doctors, who were sacked after refusing to answer queries over an “illegal” strike, have filed a suit with the NIC asking the court to void the dismissal letters.
Dr. Olumiya Odusote, chairman of the Medical Guild, and Dr. Idris Durojaye filed the suit on behalf of the guild’s members. Their suit was challenged by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Lagos State, Mr. Ade Ipaye, who argued that the court lacked jurisdiction in the matter.
In a phone interview with Pilot Africa, Dr. Odusote, confirming the NIC’s ruling against the government, said the judge, Justice Benedict Kanyip, resolved that since “it is a labour matter and it involves a strike, purported injustice and a breached agreement, the court has a right to determine if the strike was legal or not”.
Odusote said it was the judge’s ruling that if the NIC does not hear the case that it will be unable to determine if the doctors were in the wrong and if the dismissal letters issued by the government was valid.
When asked if a compromise was in the horizon and if the doctors were willing to offer any, Odusote said, “we have already compromised severally, it is the government that has refused to compromise”.
The Medical Guild chairman revealed that they met with members of the House of Representative on Wednesday. He said the representatives, who had just had a meeting with the state government, asked the doctors to write a letter to the governor asking that he intervene in the matter of their dismissal.
“We wrote the letter and now we are waiting on the governor,” Odusote said.
However, in a recent television interview, Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola had said that he did not have the power to reverse the dismissal, which was the decision of the state health board.
Fashola had explained that he was willing to recall the sacked doctors, but only if advised to do so. Still he insisted that he alone did not have the power to reverse the decision.
“The law does not give the governor any role to play in that process except the appointment of the chairman and members of the board, on the recommendation of the commissioner for health,” Fashola said.
The doctors, however, say Fashola is lying to the people when he claims to be powerless in the situation. “That’s not true, he is the governor of the state and has the final say,” Odusote said in the phone interview.
Odusote contended that “if the governor can reverse a death sentence of a criminal using the prerogative of mercy”, then reversing the dismissal of the 788 sacked doctors should prove no difficulty.
With both parties still at a stalemate, the doctors are still set to have their day in court. Justice Kanyip of the NIC said the case would proceed to trial, adjourning until 19 June 2012.