By M. Peter, Jos

Medical doctors and other health workers in the North Central states of Nigeria have frowned at incessant assault on them by members of COVID-19 team enforcing lock down in states within the region.

The health care workers said their members on legitimate duties have been harassed and assaulted, some with injuries by task force officials.

Health care providers are essential workers and they are exempted from restriction of movement.

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Leader of the North Central Caucus of the National Association of Resident Doctors, Dr . Abdulquadri Idrisu in a statement in Jos on Sunday, jointly signed by the Deputy Leader, Dr Kelvin Emmanuel threatened to call on its members in the 13 centres within the North Central states to stay away from the hospitals and observe strict stay -at- home order, if their safety, security and freedom can not be guaranteed.

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They expressed worry over the alleged disengagement of 25 resident doctors from the Jos University Teaching Hospital and called on the federal government to prevail on the management of the hospital to reinstate the affected health personnel without further delay.

The statement reads, “The Caucus has received reports of recurrent incidents of assault and humiliation, both verbal and physical, of Medical Doctors and Health workers in the North Central region of Nigeria, in the course of transit to and from their places of work, during the COVID-19 lockdown/curfew. It is also common knowledge that Medical Doctors and Health Workers are currently on the front line of this battle, risking their lives against this unforeseen enemy of the people called coronavirus”

“Many times these Medical Doctors are harassed, humiliated and threatened with bodily harm, even when they try to explain themselves to the men and women enforcing the Lockdown/Curfew orders, which should not even be necessary because Health Workers are listed among “Essential Services” providers.

“For the sake of clarity, diseases and life-threatening conditions are not on “lockdown”, hence the personnel required to combat them and save lives, should not be made to be on lockdown. Doctors still have critical patients on admission in the various Public and Private Hospitals for life and limb threatening conditions, other than COVID-19, who require daily consultations else their conditions deteriorate. It is therefore beyond understanding and comprehension that a Medical Doctor or Health Worker would be assaulted while in transit to or from this critical duty he/she is doing.”

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“We call on the Presidential Task Force and the Heads of all Security Agencies enforcing the COVID-19 Lockdown/Curfew across the Country to put necessary measures in place to curb this unfortunate events and enlighten their men on the rules of engagement as regards Medical Doctors and Health Workers during this challenging period the whole world is currently facing.

“The Caucus may have no other choice but to call on all its members in the thirteen Centres within Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue States and the FCT, to stay away from the Hospitals and observe strict “Stay Home order” in the affected States and the entire North Central Zone of the Country, if their safety, security and freedom cannot be guaranteed.”

The statement added “the Caucus wishes to inform the Management of JUTH that according to the Medical Residency Training Act (MRTA), passed by the National Assembly in 2017 and signed into Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari and published in the FRN official Gazette no. 92, vol 105 on 16th July, 2018 and published as a supplementary Act, no. 28, page A267-273, Residency Training in Nigeria is regulated by the National Medical Postgraduate College of Nigeria.

“The conditions for termination of appointment are clearly stated within the Act. Any process or processes followed in the termination of appointment of these Resident Doctors that is alien to the Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be strongly and vehemently resisted. We call on the Management of JUTH and the Federal Ministry of Health to correct this illegality in order to maintain industrial harmony within the State and the North Central Zone of the Country.”