Members of the Lagos State Chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association have been directed by the leadership of the association to immediately proceed on an indefinite sit-at-home strike starting from 6.00 p.m. on Wednesday.
This directive was contained in a joint statement signed by the chairman and Secretary of the association, Saliu Oseni and Ramon Moronkola, respectively in Lagos.
Recall that the police in Lagos on Tuesday mounted road blocks in different parts of Lagos by 8.00p.m and the leadership of the association reportedly gave its directive to be in compliance with the curfew.
They also allegedly arrested some people including essential workers that were presumed to have flouted the curfew directive.
The NMA leaders said that their decision was as a result of the conflicting directives by the state government and law enforcement agents on the status of essential workers, including doctors and other health workers.
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 to proceed on a sit-at-home starting from 6.00 p.m. today, May 20, indefinitely.
“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 and 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.
“The healthcare workers were either resuming duty, returning home, or on-transit to heed an emergency call.
“There was a most disturbing case of an ambulance conveying an injured patient which was prevented from moving to destination, while the attending health workers were harassed and temporarily detained,” the NMA said.
They recalled that similar situation occurred sometimes in the early phase of the ongoing lockdown/restriction of movement based on similar conflicting directives from the Commissioner of Police.
“It took the intervention of the State governor, following a petition by the association, for normalcy to be restored,” they said.
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 a 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 exempting healthcare workers, media, agriculture, oil and gas, among others, as essential workers.
But in contrast, the Commissioner of Police 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.