PRESS RELEASE OF THE LAGOS STATE BRANCH OF NIGERIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION ON THE CONTINUED CONFLICTING DIRECTIVES OF GOVERNMENT AND LAW-ENFORCEMENT AGENTS ON THE STATUS OF ESSENTIAL WORKERS, INCLUDING DOCTORS AND OTHER HEALTH-WORKERS AND THE INCESSANT HARASSMENT OF HEALTHCARE WORKERS IN LAGOS
May 20, 2020
Whereas the directives of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhamadu Buhari, through the Presidential Taskforce 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 (Tuesday, 19th of May, 2020) evening of several cases of harassments and intimidation of doctors and other health-workers by Officers and Men of the Lagos State Police command. 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. You will recall that this same ugly situation had occurred sometimes in the early phase of the ongoing lockdown/restriction of movement based on similar conflicting directives from the State Commissioner of Police. It took the intervention of the Governor of the State, following a petition by the Association, for normalcy to be restored.
This time around, while it is still unclear how the Government and the Lagos State commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu will wish to operationalize the lockdown/restriction of movement directive, vis-à-vis 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 her members to continue to provide healthcare services under the present confused arrangement.
Following an emergency deliberation on this ugly and recurrent situation, the Association resolved as follows;
1. That ALL doctors under the auspices of the Nigerian Medical Association in Lagos proceed on a sit-at-home starting from 6pm today, Wednesday, 20th May, 2020 indefinitely, until such time when the Government and the Lagos State commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu 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.
2. 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, should be issued, advertised in the social and mainstream media, and a copy submitted to the Secretariat of the Lagos State Branch of NMA
Dr Saliu Oseni. Dr Ramon Moronkola