The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Lagos State Chapter, has directed its members to immediately proceed on an indefinite sit-at-home protest, starting from 6.00p.m on Wednesday.
The association gave the directive in a joint statement by its Chairman, Dr. Saliu Oseni, and Secretary, Dr Ramon Moronkola.
However, the NMA National President Dr. Francis Faduyile, said: “I am not aware of a strike, but I am aware of a sit-at-home. A strike means there is an industrial dispute. However, a sit-at-home came to be because the Police has said that it will not exempt them from the restriction.
“The question now is: do they want them to be harassed? So the NMA Chairman in Lagos has to protect his members.
“Hitherto, they have said essential workers should be exempted so that they can do their work but since the Police are saying no, then, let them sit at home like every other person.”
To strengthen compliance of the curfew, the police in Lagos on Tuesday mounted road blocks in different parts of Lagos by 8.00p.m.
They also allegedly arrested some people, including essential workers that were presumed to have flouted the curfew directive.
The NMA leaders said that 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 doctors also said that their action was necessitated following incessant harassment of healthcare workers in Lagos by the 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 6.00p.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,” the NMA leaders said.
They demanded a written statement, by the state government and the appropriate police authorities, with clear terms on the status of essential services, including healthcare services and its providers.
The group said: “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.