Federal High Court Affirms Voluntary Membership of NMA for Doctors

In a significant legal victory, the Federal High Court Abuja, under the leadership of Honourable Justice D.U. OKOROWO, delivered a landmark judgment on Monday, May 6th, 2024, with far-reaching implications for the Nigerian medical landscape. The ruling, stemming from a case initiated by Dr. Olusola Adeyelu, upheld the right to freedom of association, declaring membership of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) voluntary for doctors across the nation.

Dr. Olusola Adeyelu, a renowned activist Medical Doctor and Specialist Respiratory Physician, took a principled stand against perceived injustices within the NMA, particularly citing concerns over what he deemed as unjustifiable levies imposed by the association. In a bold move in 2019, he formally withdrew his membership from the NMA and notified the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, the regulatory body overseeing medical practitioners in the country.

However, Dr. Adeyelu’s stance faced resistance in 2020 when he sought to renew his practicing license. The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria insisted on the compulsory payment of the NMA’s building levy as a prerequisite for license renewal, effectively mandating association with the NMA. Dr. Adeyelu, staunchly opposed to this imposition, opted to challenge the decision in court.

Represented by legal counsel Tope Temokun, Dr. Adeyelu brought the matter before the Federal High Court Abuja, arguing for the voluntary nature of NMA membership. Central to the case was Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which guarantees the right to freely associate without coercion.

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Supported by a thorough affidavit, Dr. Adeyelu’s case posed ten pertinent questions and sought fifteen reliefs, all anchored in the constitutional principles of freedom and autonomy. This ruling not only vindicates Dr. Adeyelu’s position but also sets a precedent for the broader protection of individual rights within Nigeria’s medical community, marking a significant milestone in the ongoing struggle for justice and autonomy.

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