Lagos doctors to amend suit filed against state government

Lagos State doctors, who are under the employment of the State government, will amend the suit they filed against the state, their lawyer has said.

At the resumed hearing of the suit at the National Industrial Court on Tuesday, Ode Abah, the doctors’ counsel, explained to the court that since the doctors have been recalled from their suspension, their earlier position has “been overtaken by events”.

“We intend to amend our statement of facts to reflect the present position,” said Mr. Abah, who was standing in for Bamidele Aturu.

“Despite that they have gone back to work, they have not paid them CONMESS (Consolidated Medical Salary Scale),” Mr. Abah added.

In her response, Kemi Olugbode, representing Ade Ipaye, Lagos Attorney General and counsel for the state, sought an order from the court to stay proceedings on the matter pending their appeal against the court’s earlier ruling.

At the last sitting of the court, Benedict Kanyip, the presiding judge, stated that the court had jurisdiction to entertain the suit, against the prayer of the Lagos State government.

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Mr. Kanyip also said that although the Medical Guild – the body of doctors employed by the state – is not a registered trade union’ the doctors who sued on its behalf are “human beings and are capable of suing”.

Consequently, the Lagos State government headed to the Court of Appeal.

On Tuesday, Mr. Kanyip said that the court does not usually grant stay of proceedings under the prevailing circumstance.

“At the last judges’ conference, we were ordered that we should not stay proceedings of a lower court when it has not been decided on merit,” Mr. Kanyip said.

For the first time since the suit began, last month, the court room was sparsely populated.

Only the principal executives of the Medical Guild attended the proceedings.

And only one person represented the Lagos State government.

The suspension of the doctors’ sack, late last month, also meant that there were no placard-carrying activists outside the court room telling the state to fulfill their agreement with the doctors or pleading with the doctors to go back to work.

There are concerns, especially among the doctors, that their amended suit may fall outside the jurisdiction of the court.

“The context we had was of the strike, for which we have jurisdiction,” said Mr. Kanyip.

“The context for which you understand the ruling… You may want to go to Arbitration and Reconciliation and then come back here for appeal or you may want to file the case as individuals,” Mr. Kanyip added.

But Mr. Abah noted that although their earlier case had been “overtaken by events”, the new amendment will hinge on the failure of government to implement CONMESS.

“We’ll definitely amend it to bring out the facts that will give the court jurisdiction,” Mr. Abah told PREMIUM TIMES at the end of Tuesday’s sitting.

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