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Lagos doctors to begin indefinite strike after police harassment

By Idowu Abdullahi,

Worried by the incessant alleged police harassment in Lagos, the state’s branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has directed doctors to proceed on an indefinite sit-at-home action in protesting harassment of health workers in the line of duties due to lockdown directives.

It explained that several cases of harassment and intimidation of doctors and other health-workers by officers and men of the state’s Police command had necessitated the directive by the association.

The state Chairman of NMA, Dr. Saliu Oseni, said the conflicting directives by the government and incessant police harassment after the Presidential directive which exempt essential workers including doctors and other health workers from the ongoing movement restrictions, and the curfew were rendering the lives of his members.

Oseni, through a statement he jointly signed by the NMA Secretary, Dr. Ramon Moronkola, revealed that the sit-at-home order is expected to begin from 6 pm on Wednesday (today), adding that the agreement was reached after the association reviewed the state’s Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu’s alleged conflicting directives on social and mainstream media that essential workers, including doctors and other health workers, are not exempted from the curfew.

He noted that some of the health workers were either resuming duty, returning home, or on-transit for emergency health response, when they were being harassed by the security operatives in the state.

“There was a most disturbing case of an ambulance conveying an injured patient which was prevented from moving to the destination while the attending health-workers were harassed and temporarily detained. You will recall that this same ugly situation had occurred sometimes in the early phase of the ongoing lockdown/restriction of movement based on similar conflicting directives from the State Commissioner of Police.  It took the intervention of the Governor of the State, following a petition by the Association, for normalcy to be restored.

“This time around, while it is still unclear how the Government and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu will wish to operationalize the lockdown/restriction of movement directive, vis-à-vis the status of essential workers, including doctors and other health workers, the Lagos State Branch of the NMA has resolved that it is presently unsafe for her members to continue to provide healthcare services under the present confused arrangement,” the statement read in parts.

He added that the strike action will continue till such times the government and the state’s police command ‘are clear on how they wish to operationalize the lockdown, restriction of movement directive as it relates to essential service and service providers, including healthcare services and doctors.’

The NMA Chairman also said the doctors resolved that a written statement, signed by Government and the appropriate Police Authorities, with clear terms on the status of essential services, including healthcare services and its providers, should be issued, advertised in the social and mainstream media, and a copy submitted to the Secretariat of the Lagos State Branch of NMA to ensure their safety and guide their activities before they resume work.

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