Striking health workers have accused an official of a teaching hospital of slapping one of them. They also called on the federal government for protection against further assault.
In a statement on Sunday signed by its National Chairman, Biobelemoye Josiah, the Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly of Health Care Professionals, JOHESU, said the alleged assault happened on Friday in Irrua, Edo State.
The union alleged that its branch chairman at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo State, Fidelis Ogobor, was allegedly slapped by the chairman of the hospital's Medical Advisory Committee, CMAC, Wilson Ovienria.
It said Mr. Ogobor was leading a monitoring team at the hospital to check compliance of workers to the strike called by the national body of JOHESU when the incident happened.
"We express our displeasure with the ISTH CMAC who stooped so low to have slapped Comrade Ogobor and destroyed the mobile handset (iPhone) belonging to another of our members, Mr Tune."
The union urged the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, to advise doctors across hospitals in Nigeria against provoking its members who are observing the strike declared by the union.
"JOHESU wishes to inform the Honourable Minister of Health by this statement and a message sent to the minister's office that after assaulting members who did not try to retaliate but only notified the police DPO at Irrua, the ISTH CMAC has continued to threaten to attack our union leaders and to sack workers.
"We also wish to remind the Minister that during the period when the Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) embarked on strike, no JOHESU member had any cause to have any provocative encounter nor interfere with the doctors or any member of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
"We also remind Government that no amount of provocation will intimidate JOHESU members from continuing our just fight against discrimination, corruption, underfunding etc, until our demands are met.
"We have declared "Operation Alligator Bite" as the code-name of the ongoing strike over the refusal of the federal government to implement series of MOUs, agreements and court cases which JOHESU has won at the National Industrial Court, including neglect of our members.
"We appeal to the general public to understand our position, as we respect our patients and would not wish anyone to be sick, but we have to also state that fighting for better healthcare delivery and welfare of workers at the hospitals are paramount.
"We assure that as soon as government fulfils its part of the bargain, we will call off our industrial action."
The union embarked on an industrial action on September 20.