Following reported harassment and arrest of some health workers on essential duties in Lagos State, for allegedly violating the curfew order imposed by President Muhammadu Buhari, the state Chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has directed its members to immediately proceed on an indefinite sit-at-home beginning from 6 pm on Wednesday.
A statement jointly signed by NMAs Chairman and Secretary, Saliu Oseni and Ramon Moronkola respectively, said 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 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, the statement reads.
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 operationalize the lockdown/restriction of movement directive as it relates to essential service and service providers, including healthcare services and doctors.
The NMA asked the state government to issue a written statement, signed by representative of the state government and the appropriate police authorities, with clear terms on the status of essential services, including healthcare services and its providers.
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.
“The group 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, it said.