Police Provoke Doctors’ , Journalists’ Wrath Over Unwarranted Enforcement Of Curfew Against Essential Workers

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…NMA, LJL, LASOMP reacts

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Lagos on Wednesday directed its members to proceed immediately on an indefinite sit-at-home strike, saying security agencies were harassing its members on essential duties, Thecitypulsenews.

In the statement they issued yesterday, NMA leaders Dr Saliu Oseni (chairman) and Dr Ramon Moronkola (secretary) said: “The Lagos State branch 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 proceed on a sit-at-home starting from 6:00 p.m. today, May 20, indefinitely.

Police Provoke Doctors’ , Journalists' Wrath Over Unwarranted Enforcement Of Curfew Against Essential Workers
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“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 Federal Government had ordered an 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. curfew and an interstate restriction to movement nationwide in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.

The NMA statement reads further: “Whereas the directives of President Muhammadu 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 on Tuesday 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.”

Journalists also had a raw deal at the hands of police personnel. Yusuf Adekunle, the Head of Investigation at The Nation newspaper, said some of the police officers were annoyed that the media had blamed them for lapses in enforcing the restrictions aimed at containing COVID-19.

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“The officers refused to allow anyone go, saying that was the instruction given to them. There were bankers on essential duties that had fed money into ATMs. Some of them even had letters. But the police said they would impound all our vehicles and hand them over to the task force in the morning. I had to go back,” he said.

TVCs crime reporter, Ivy Kanu, said: “I noticed that the roadblocks had increased. The place was packed full. Over 50 people were there. The impounded vehicles were more than 20 and more were still coming in. Some people had been taken into custody and put into cells. Some others were standing outside. I was asked to go behind the counter. That was where I was before the DPO announced that we should come outside. They handed our keys to us and told us to sleep in our cars till the next morning.”

Police Provoke Doctors’ , Journalists' Wrath Over Unwarranted Enforcement Of Curfew Against Essential Workers
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Reacting to the police harassment, two Lagos based media association: Lagos Journalists’ League (LJL) and Lagos Online Media Publishers (LASOMP) completely berate the action of the police.

LJL described the action as barbaric, provocative while LASOMP sees it as a way of misinformation between PTF and IGP.

In a statement issued in Lagos on Wednesday by the group’s acting Secretary, Enitan Olukotun, LJL queried the rationale behind locking up, detaining journalists who are designated as essential workers for being on the road after 8pm when curfew sets in.

The police can’t feign ignorance on how pen professionals ply their trade.

These Journalists who are rarely appreciated by the society work around the clock to keep the society informed and stabilize the polity by filtering false news.

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It is disheartening that many of our colleagues had to pass the night on major highways across the state with the attendant health and security risks.

The high handedness and overzealousness of policemen in enforcing the curfew is rather disturbing even when the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 had earlier given members of the fourth Estate permission to move without harassment.

Lagos Journalists League therefore demands unreserved apology from the police authorities for this act.

The League draws the attention of the public to dangers inherent in news gathering and processing during this Covid-19 period.

Some of our colleagues had contracted the dreaded COVID-19 virus whilst working to keep the society informed on the novel virus.

It is therefore provocative to compensate our colleagues who are working in a very difficult condition with detention and harassment, he said.

Police Provoke Doctors’ , Journalists' Wrath Over Unwarranted Enforcement Of Curfew Against Essential Workers
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Speaking on behalf of LASOMP, Mr Ayo Mojoyin said the police are just trying to play their stupidity to the gallery because Presidential Task Force has already informed the IGP to exempt all essential workers, so I wonder the sudden change, if not for misinformation.

He said the association executives are already making plans to have a zoom meeting with state commissioner for information Mr Gbenga Omotosho and Chief Press Secretary to Governor Sanwo-Olu, Nr Gboyega Akosile before they proceed on any industrial action like NMA.

Condemning the action, Mr Mojoyin said three of our members slept in the police station till Wednesday morning, which is practically uncalled for.

Meanwhile, police source revealed that “The IGP instructed a total lockdown. It is expected of every essential duty personnel to comply with the directive. We mean business this time around.
Journalists and other essential duty workers had been exempted but in the new order, nobody is exempted.”

Police Provoke Doctors’ , Journalists' Wrath Over Unwarranted Enforcement Of Curfew Against Essential Workers
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