Delta State Commissioner of Police, Hafiz M. Inuwa, on Thursday ordered disciplinary action against a female inspector and some other policemen for assaulting a medical doctor serving at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, Dr. Joseph Ajanwenyi.
The incident took place at a checkpoint at Okpanam,in the state capital, when the policemen pulled the doctor over.
A statement by the Secretary, Nigerian Medical Association, Delta State, Dr Jude C. Ugbechie, reads: “On the 9th of April 2020 at about 12:00p.m, the Chairman of NMA Delta State Dr Ekeneam Omo received a call from the President of the ARD FMC Dr Osifo Nwabunor that one of their members, Dr Joseph Ajanwenyi was detained at one of the police checkpoints at Okpanam.
“The Chairman in the company of the ARD President rushed down to the scene to ascertain what happened with a view to resolving the issue. On arrival, they met Dr Ajanwenyi sitting in his car with the police barricade still in place. Dr Ajanwenyi then narrated his ordeal in the hands of the overzealous police officers.
According to him, he got to the checkpoint and was pulled over by the police, he introduced himself, showed his ID card to the police inspector who said she had difficulty seeing it and demanded that the ID card be handed over to her which the doctor declined as a precautionary measure in the face of the COVID 19 pandemic but instead brought the ID card closer to the car window. The inspector walked away insisting that the doctor must hand over the ID card or he will not be allowed to pass.
“After waiting for more than 10 minutes and was still not allowed to pass, he then put a call across to the ARD FMC president who in turn contacted the state NMA Chairman.
On arrival at the scene, the state Chairman met the female inspector and in the course of trying to find out what transpired, the inspector made derogatory remarks which did not go down well with Dr Ajanwenyi resulting in verbal exchange between them. At this point, the state Chairman requested that the doctor be allowed to go while he and ARD President resolve the issue.
“The female inspector obliged him but as the doctor entered his car to leave the scene as agreed, another policeman accosted him and started manhandling him in a bid to prevent him from leaving.
“The ARD President intervened, holding and pleading that Dr Ajanwenyi be allowed to go. At this stage two more policemen joined in the assault and one of them sprayed teargas on the doctors.
The incident was reported to the Commissioner of Police CP Hafiz M.I who immediately ordered the arrest of the policemen involved and brought to state police headquarters.
“After listening to both parties, the CP “accepted responsibility” for the action of his men and “tendered unreserved apology” to the doctors who were assaulted, the ARD FMC and the NMA for the unruly behaviour of his men. He thereafter “ordered the police officers to be detained” and “issued queries” for disobedience of orders, assault and unnecessary exercise of authority while the inspector was to undergo *orderly room trial*.
“The CP also “accepted to replace the two phones damaged” during the assault. He then “appealed to the ARD FMC to call off the strike action” declared at the Emergency General Meeting called as a result of the assault. The MD FMC Asaba opted to replace the phones in appreciation of how the CP handled the matter.
We wish to express our sincere gratitude to His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Delta State Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa who called the police commissioner while we were at the Commissioner’s office to request that justice be served.
“We also thank the Honourable Commissioner for Health Dr Mordi Ononye who was at the state police headquarters to see the CP over the matter and ensured speedy resolution of the crisis. We also extend our gratitude to the MD, FMC Asaba Dr Osiatuma who was also present at the meeting with the CP and contributed to the amicable agreements reached.
“We wish to assure members that their safety and security remains our priority at all times. We will therefore continue to do everything possible to ensure this. The CP has equally assured us of his commitment to the safety of doctors in the state and urged the association to reach out to him whenever there is any act of police brutality or harassment of our members in the course of discharge of their duties.
“We enjoin members to get acquainted with the State NMA’s advisory on medical personnel interaction with security agents in this lockdown period.
We thank you all for your support and solidarity throughout this saga.”