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COVID-19: Lagos doctors commence strike over harrassment by security operatives

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic still ravaging the country, the Lagos Chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) on Wednesday, May 20, ordered its members to launch an indefinite strike over alleged police harassment.

According to the group, the Police in Lagos has been harassing its members through conflicting COVID-19 directives on the status of essential workers.

The association gave the directive in a joint statement signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Saliu Oseni; and Ramon Moronkola, respectively in Lagos.

1st News had also reported that to strengthen compliance of the COVID-19 curfew; the police in Lagos on Tuesday mounted road blocks in different parts of Lagos by 8.00 p.m.

They also allegedly arrested some people; including essential workers that were presumed to have flouted the curfew directive.

The doctors also said that their action was necessitated; following incessant harassment of healthcare workers in Lagos by the security agents.

“The Lagos State Branch of the NMA has resolved that it is presently unsafe for its members to continue to provide healthcare services under the present confused arrangement.

“We resolve that all doctors under the auspices of the Nigerian Medical Association in Lagos proceed on a sit-at-home; starting from 6.00 p.m. today, May 20, indefinitely.”

Also,

“Until such time when the state government and the Commissioner of Police, are clear on how they wish to operationalise the lockdown/restriction of movement directive; as it relates to essential service and service providers; including healthcare services and doctors,” the NMA leaders said.

They demanded a written statement; signed by the state government as well as the appropriate police authorities; with clear terms on the status of essential services; including healthcare services and its providers, should be issued.

It should be advertised in the social and mainstream media; and a copy submitted to the Secretariat of the Lagos State Branch of NMA.

“Whereas, the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19; was clear on the exemption of essential workers; including doctors and other health-workers from the ongoing lockdown/movement restrictions.

“The Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr Hakeem Odumosu, has been issuing conflicting directives on social and mainstream media to the effect that essential workers; including doctors and other health workers, are not exempted.

“As a direct result of the conflicting directives of the government and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police; the Lagos State branch of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) was inundated yesterday evening with several cases of harassments and intimidation of doctors and other health-workers by officers and men of the Police Command in Lagos State.”

According to them, it is presently unclear how the state government and the CSP wish to operationalise the lockdown/restriction of movement directive; vis-à-vis the status of essential workers.

The Federal Government had ordered an 8.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m. curfew; and an interstate restriction of movement nationwide, in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19.

However, the government exempted healthcare workers; media; agriculture; oil; and gas, among others; as essential workers.

The Commissioner of Police had earlier announced that the new directive from the Inspector General of Police was that everyone should be at home at 8.00 p.m., including essential workers.

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