Alleged thugs

Armed political thugs on Wednesday invaded the Federal Medical Centre in Lokoja, carting away cash, laptops, and telephone handsets, among others.

The invaders, numbering over 50 men and armed with guns, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons, also vandalised the administrative building and accounts office of the Federal Government-owned health facility.

The incident, which occurred at about 8:30 a.m., forced relations to immediately evacuate patients from the hospital, while doctors, nurses, and other health workers on duty sustained injuries.

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The hoodlums were believed to have been sponsored to frustrate a peaceful protest scheduled for Wednesday by the health workers of the Federal Medical Centre.

The health workers, under the aegis of Joint Action Council (JAC), had on June 26 notified the management of a peaceful protest in the hospital premises on July 1.

The protest, according to JAC, is necessitated by the prevailing approach to the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 in the state.

Recall that the accident and emergency unit of the hospital were shut down about three weeks ago due to exposure of staff to patients that had tested positive to Coronavirus.

The Chief Medical Director of the center, Dr. Olatunde Alabi, did not respond to any telephone calls made to him.

The hospital had been shut down by the management while workers have been advised to stay off for security reasons.

The state Police Command Spokesman, DSP William Aya, said that no arrest was made, adding that normalcy had returned to the hospital.

In its reaction, the state government said that the attack was carried out by relations of patients protesting poor quality services at the hospital.

Mr. Kingsley Fanwo, the state Commissioner for Information, in a statement, also blamed the violent attack on the failure of the hospital management to attend to patients.

“Many people in the emergency ward were left unattended to and a mother delivered at the gate of the hospital.

“That generated a lot of public tension in the state.

Tension started building since yesterday (June 30) when patients and their relatives learned of a plan by the medical staff to stage a protest today.

“We urge the people of the state to remain calm as the government will ensure the maintenance of law and order,” Fanwo said in the statement.

He sued for calm and promised that the government would protect workers from the hospital.

The commissioner said that the government would carry out further investigations to ascertain the remote causes of the breach of peace by the protesters and also address their fears.


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