Nigerian doctors strike over police harassment during Covid-19 curfew

Doctors and health workers in Nigeria’s commercial city of Lagos, where the highest number of Coronavirus patients have been recorded on Wednesday embarked on a “sit-at-home” action over “continuous harassment” by security agencies in the state while implementing the lockdown order.

“All doctors under our auspices (Nigeria Medical Association) should proceed on a sit-at-home starting from 6pm on Wednesday, May 20, indefinitely, until such time when the government and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, are clear on how they wish to operationalise the restriction of movement directive as it relates to essential service and service providers, including healthcare services and Doctors”, a statement jointly signed by its chairman and secretary, Saliu Oseni and Ramon Moronkola said.

The doctors union said the level of harassment had been on the increase, and that it received “complaints about several cases of harassment of doctors and other health workers by security officials of the Lagos State Police Command” despite a directive by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to grant essential workers free movement.

Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, was accused of issuing conflicting directives on social and mainstream media to the effect that essential workers, including doctors and other health workers, were not exempted from the ongoing lockdown order.

“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” the doctors said.

The health workers demanded 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, be issued, advertised in the social and mainstream media, and a copy submitted to the secretariat of the Lagos State branch of NMA.”

The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu eventually granted their request along with previous agitations by journalists and other essential workers to be allowed to go to work or return home freely after work between 8pm and 6am.

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