The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has directed Zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIGs) and Commissioners of Police (CPs) to exempt essential service providers from the movement restriction order.
This was contained in a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, on Wednesday in Abuja.
The police statement came hours after doctors in Lagos declared a sit-at-home following incessant harassment by security officials while many doctors were going out for essential services.
Doctors, health workers and journalists are among the few categories of people exempted from the nationwide curfew announced by President Muhammadu Buhari to check the spread of COVID-19.
Mr Adamu said his directive to the police followed inquiries on the status of essential workers in respect of the due enforcement of the national curfew and inter-state movement restriction orders declared by the federal government.
He explained that it had become necessary to clear all ambiguity on the position of the police, especially as it relates to persons on essential duties.
"The force is not oblivious of the sensitive, indispensable, patriotic and front line role of the nation's workforce that falls within the category of Essential Service Providers in government efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
"To this effect, all essential workers including medical personnel, ambulance service providers, journalists and firefighters remain exempted from the movement restriction orders as well as the national curfew," he said.
Mr Adamu called on zonal AIGs and Command CPs to give maximum effect to the orders and extend due courtesies to essential service providers so affected.
He enjoined all workers who fall within these categories not to take undue advantage of their positions and privileges to advance other purposes not connected with the performance of their duties.
The I-G urged the AIGs and CPs to ensure that personnel deployed for the enforcement duties respect the fundamental rights of the citizens.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Nigerian Medical Association in Lagos directed its members to immediately proceed on an indefinite sit-at-home strike starting from 6.00 p.m. on Wednesday.
The association gave the directive in a joint statement signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Saliu Oseni and Ramon Moronkola, respectively in Lagos.
The NMA leaders said that their decision was as a result of the conflicting directives by the state government and law enforcement agents on the status of essential workers, including doctors and other health workers.
The doctors also said that their action was necessitated following incessant harassment of healthcare workers in Lagos by the security agents.
"The Lagos State Branch of the NMA has resolved that it is presently unsafe for its members to continue to provide healthcare services under the present confused arrangement.
"We resolve that all doctors under the auspices of the Nigerian Medical Association in Lagos to proceed on a sit-at-home starting from 6.00 p.m. today, May 20, indefinitely.
"Until such time when the state government and the Commissioner of Police, are clear on how they wish to operationalise the lockdown/restriction of movement directive as it relates to essential service and service providers, including healthcare services and doctors," the NMA leaders said.
They demanded a written statement, signed by the state government and the appropriate police authorities, with clear terms on the status of essential services, including healthcare services and its providers, should be issued.
"It should be advertised in the social and mainstream media, and a copy submitted to the Secretariat of the Lagos State Branch of NMA."
The statement by the police Wednesday evening appears to have met one of the conditions of the protesting doctors.