Paul Obi in Abuja
Following the issuance of a restraining order and injunction by the National Industrial Court, asking the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) to suspend its nationwide indefinite strike, the union yesterday summoned an emergency meeting of its members to take action on the court order.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, and Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, had earlier called on JOHESU to respect the NIC order pending the quashing of the injunction by a superior court of jurisdiction.
JOHESU, in response had denied any knowledge of any such injunction by the National Industrial Court, debunking reports that the health workers union had been served the court order.
Though JOHESU would not categorically say they have called off the strike, the union Chairman, Biobelemoye Josiah told journalists in Abuja that â€œan Order of Interim Injunction compelling the JOHESU to immediately resume duties was just served on JOHESU at 5.39pm today (yesterday).
â€œWe 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.â€
Josiah explained that â€œfollowing 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, JOHESU had before the receipt of this Court order filed court processes in the National Industrial Court and the court of Appeal on May 21, 2018 challenging the locus standi of the NGO and the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suite. The NGO has constituted itself into a meddlesome interloper.
â€œWe have noted with dismay the persistent attempt 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 and wards. It beats imagination that the NMA will go to any ridiculous length in giving bad names to a dog in order to hang it.â€
He said: â€œNothing could be farther from the truth. The NMA wants the public to believe that hospital authorities lack the power to keep the gates and doors of our health facilities open.
â€œOur 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.
â€œJOHESU has summoned an emergency consultation meeting of all state and zonal leaders on Sunday, May 27 and Monday, May 28 to deliberate on the next steps in the ongoing strike action.
â€œWe call on the government to honour and implement the agreement it freely entered into with JOHESU on the 30th September, 2017, for a permanent resolution of the impasse, to restore normalcy and end the suffering of innocent Nigerians.
â€œWe commend the leadership of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for their recent intervention aimed at full and amicable resolution of the crisis. We also commend all men and women of good conscience who have lent their voices of reason to our struggle for justice, fairness and equity in the health sector,â€ Josiah added.