The Lagos State Police Command on Wednesday said it arrested an Inspector and two persons in his vehicle for violating the stay-home order issued by President Muhammadu Buhari as a measure to curtail the spread of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
It said the Inspector who was not on duty, was caught while going about his private business in outright disregard for the movement restriction directive which came to effect at 11pm on Monday, March 30.
The command gave this example while refuting allegations by the Lagos chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) that medical workers and support staff were being harassed or restricted by policemen enforcing the lockdown order.
Denying the allegation, spokesman Bala Elkana said persons restricted were either impersonators of essential duty workers or those not on duty but using their identification cards as pass to go about their private businesses.
Elkana said: “The attention of the Lagos State Police Command has been drawn to a statement credited to Nigeria Medical Association, Lagos State accusing the Police of restricting the movement of its members. This is completely false and misleading.
“It is on record that the restriction of movement order that took effect from Monday, March 30, does not apply to hospitals and all related medical establishments as well as organisations in healthcare-related manufacturing and distribution. “Commercial establishments such as: (a) food processing, distribution and retail companies; (b) petroleum distribution and retail entities; (c) power generation, transmission and distribution companies; and (d) private security companies are also exempted.
“Workers in telecommunication companies, broadcasters, print and electronic media staff who can prove they are unable to work from home are also exempted. Banks are allowed to render skeletal services….
“The Commissioner of Police (Hakeem Odumosu) personally went round to monitor compliance across the state. Reports received from Area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) and officers from the field show a high level of compliance. “Few cases recorded have to do with some individuals intercepted on the roads who claimed to fall under the categories of persons exempted but turned out to be false. Some could not provide any means of identification while others who actually belong to the professions mentioned were hiding under the cover to carry out their private businesses.
“An example is a medical doctor serving in another state but on annual leave in Lagos State, intercepted with three other passengers in his car going on private mission.
“A Police Inspector was also arrested with two passengers in his vehicle going on a private assignment in total violation of the restriction order.
“It is pertinent to state that the exemption given to certain categories of persons is not absolute. The order states that, ‘Although these establishments are exempted, access will be restricted and monitored’.
“To ensure that persons who are not on essential duties are restricted, the command insists that apart from occupational ID Card, there must also be a document to prove that the person is on duty. The command appreciates the daunting task ahead of all of us who are in the frontlines in curbing this pandemic, especially our medical and health workers.
“The relationship between the police and other professional bodies especially the NMA remains cordial. There is no time that we need each other than now. The nation depends so much on us in a time like this.
“For information or complaints regarding non compliance, call the following numbers 09010512285, 09010512286, 09010512287 and 09010512288.”