Patients at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Makurdi, on Thursday, complained of alleged intimidation by members and officials of striking Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), in Benue State.
A Correspondent reports that there was commotion and panic around the main entrance of the hospital following attempts by the union to enforce total compliance to their protracted strike.
The report said that patients, some health workers and passersby were caught in the commotion, which lasted for about half an hour before it was calmed.
According to the report, attempts by JOHESU officials to stop their members from reporting to work caused the commotion.
The commotion led to traffic build-up, thereby obstructing free flow of traffic along Atiku Abubakar Road directly in front of the hospital.
Some union officials were heard issuing verbal threats of physical assault to members bent on reporting to work just as some of the patients and relatives said they were also prevented from entering the hospital.
One of the officials (name withheld) was heard threatening a member “If you enter here I will beat you; try now let’s see” at the entrance.
One of the patients, Mrs Rose Audu, said she was shocked at the commotion at the hospital gate, and described it as “embarrassing”.
Audu admitted that she was harassed by the officials who thought she was a health worker.
She, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government to quickly resolve the contending issues to allow the health workers resume work.
Addressing journalists at the scene, the state Chairman, Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, Mr Dennis Nyam, said they would continue with the strike until their demands were met.
He explained that the union leadership was on a monitoring exercise in all the hospitals to enforce compliance and was determined to ensure 100 per cent compliance.
Also speaking on the development, the Head of Clinical Services, FMC, Dr Paulinus Abu, said the management was working with the police to ensure maintenance of law and order.
He regretted that despite all entreaties, the JOHESU members in the state had remained adamant and were recalcitrant on going ahead with the strike.
He said owing to the location of the hospital, the strike needed to be handled with utmost maturity to prevent miscreants taking advantage of it to wreck havoc on the community.
NAN, however, reports that a detachment of police officers were sighted within the vicinity of the hospital to forestall any breakdown of law and order.