PSN blasts police for harassing pharmacists in Rivers

The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, Monday blasted the police for undue harassment of pharmacists by Police officers from Ozuoba Police Station in Port Harcourt.

PSN urged the Inspector General of Police to order the immediate and speedy investigation into the matter.

In a statement signed by PSN National Publicity Secretary, Pharm Ijeoma Okey-Ewurum, PSN expressed total disappointment on the treatment meted specifically on a pharmacist, Dr Lucky Nwidu who was arrested last Saturday at the premises of his pharmacy, LuckPharm Pharmacy along with two of his clients, who came to fill up prescriptions for acute diarrhoea and stomach bite.

According to PSN, every effort made by the Pharmacist to dissuade the police from the abuse and harassment fell on deaf ears.

“Dr. Nwidu was undressed up to his underpants and held in a 12ft × 12ft cell with 39 others and refused access to his face mask, for about seven hours until he parted with some money. He is presently self-isolating having been unduly exposed by the action of the men of the Nigerian police.

“Rivers state has extended the lockdown period as a measure to contain the Covid-19 pandemic presently ravaging the world. In the words of the Governor of the state, he has asked for strict restrictions of vehicular and human movement except those on essential services. Lockdown is the new normal around the world including Nigeria, with Lagos, Abuja and Ogun states on total lockdown at some point, but essential services; foods on the go, delivery, and healthcare have continued unabated,”.

They further called on the Inspector General of Police to ensure the errant officers and brought to book. “Pharmacists will not be intimidated into abandoning their role backed by an oath to provide pharmaceutical care to the Nigerian patients through thick and thin, not even the harassment by some of these subversive and intrusive men of the Nigerian Police will discourage us.”

Wondering why health workers have become victims even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PSN queried: “We cannot overemphasis the fact that the battle for a Covid-19 free world is a huge task and needs the concerted commitment of all health workers to win. Countries of the world are celebrating their health workers as heroes of this time.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria and Nigerians have at different times commended the sacrifices of Nigerian health workers, it then baffles us the action of the men of the Ozuoba Police Station. Are they not part of the world and Nigeria? Are Rivers people immune to health emergencies?”

Noting that PSN President from the beginning of the pandemic and the International Federation of Pharmacists (FIP), had encouraged pharmacists to stand up and be counted as duty calls, they argued that community pharmacies have continued to render essential services to ensure that Nigerians meet up with their medication needs.

They warned that continuous harassment of pharmacists and other health workers would reduce access to pharmaceutical care and access to quality healthcare and result in negative health outcomes like drug resistance and complications of different magnitudes which will negate the efforts to combat the coronavirus.