The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) last night began an indefinite sit-at-home strike to protest harassment by security agents enforcing the 8pm-6am curfew in Lagos.
The association gave the directive in a joint statement signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Dr. Saliu Oseni and Dr Ramon Moronkola, respectively.
To strengthen compliance of the curfew, the police in Lagos on Tuesday mounted road blocks in different parts of Lagos by 8pm and arrested several people, including essential workers that were presumed to have flouted the curfew directive.
President Muhammadu Buhari, had ordered restriction of movements between 8pm and 6am on April 27 interstate restriction of movement nationwide to contain the spread of COVID-19.
He, however, exempted healthcare workers, media, agriculture, oil and gas, among others, as essential workers.
But on Tuesday, Adamu held a virtual meeting with zonal assistant-inspectors general of police and state commissioners of police, where he directed strict enforcement of the curfew, following reports on its breach with security operatives being blamed for poor enforcement.
The IGP had reportedly ordered that anyone found on the streets beyond 8pm should be detained.
The NMA leaders said decision to embark on a sit-at-home action was necessitated by incessant harassment of healthcare workers by 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 6p.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.”
NMA leaders 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 Muhamadu 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.”
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.