We might be forced to shut down in Kogi – PSN Chairman, Lawal Mohammed - Kidnapping
Worried by the gale of the kidnap of their members across the State, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, (PSN), has threatened to withdraw their services in Kogi State if the lives and property of their members could no longer be guaranteed in the environment they operate. In this exclusive interview with Press on Monday, the Kogi State Chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, (PSN), Dr. Lawal Mohammed speaks on the recent attack of medical practitioners in Kogi State and the kidnap of three of their members who are still in the hands of their abductors.
What is your take on the recent attack and kidnap of medical practitioners in Kogi State?
It is very worrisome, I must tell you. It is a threat to every one of us and our existence. A situation where healthcare providers and their facilities are being attacked, calls for urgent attention from all the stakeholders. Even in bad situations such as war, healthcare providers are not usually attacked. Reason being that they render services across the board
We swore to an oath to protect life. And so, we don't have enemies. We take care of everybody, irrespective of your status in the society, whether you are a criminal or not. When even criminals are apprehended on the highway and they are being brought to the hospital, they are not being denied care even with the assumption that they are criminals. They are being attended to. So, it becomes worrisome when, we that provide essential services, especially those that deal with the survival of everyone are being attacked. It calls for urgent attention.
Recently, some of your members were kidnaped by gunmen, can you tell us about it?
Three of our members have been kidnapped and up till now, there is no headway. One is from Okene, another from Kabba and the last one is from Ajaokuta. As I speak, none of them has regained their freedom. We were able to get communication from one of the victims’ abductors, and they are asking for money.
What is the situation report from the abductors of the kidnapped victims?
They are asking for money of course. One of the abductors is asking for N30,000 000 from the family of our member from Okene. They contacted his wife and asked for N30,000 000. From the information I got from the wife, the wife asked that they should allow her to have a conversation with her husband, in other for her to be sure that her husband is alive. And from then, there is no form of communication from the kidnappers. So, this is how far we have gone.
Some news making the rounds indicated that a family of one of the kidnapped victims provided N10,000,000 but it was rejected by the kidnappers. How true is this?
I read from some online media that the family of our member from Okene agreed to pay N10,000 000 to the kidnapers which was later rejected, insisting that they must pay N30,000 000 and nothing less. That news is not true. That information on those online media is false and should be disregarded. We have already reported the incident to the appropriate authorities. Let me quickly use this opportunity to educate us that, pharmacists and people who are involved in the pharmacy business are not rich. . The public should stop seeing us as being rich. We access loans from the bank. It is this money that we use to stock. And so, when you come around to attack the premises, to take away our money, or attack the individual in form of kidnapping, and asking for money, you are indirectly asking for money that has been loaned from the bank to stock. When you get this money from the operators, where do you want them to get the money to stock their various pharmaceutical stores? If they don't have money to stock, that means there will be a shortage of drugs in circulation.
We all need drugs to survive. We need drugs to prevent illnesses. We need drugs, before, during, and after surgery. You can imagine a situation where you visit the hospital and you have been seen by the physician and the physician prescribes drugs for you to use, only for you not to get where to buy your drugs. Do you think you will get over that illness? Of course, there will be complications as a result of you not getting to treat the illness. When there are complications, it is death.
What is the next step of PSN in Kogi in line with this ugly trend?
As I said earlier, it is unfortunate. If I have to be blunt, we are under serious pressure from our members. What they are asking for is that all pharmacists, including other drug stores across Kogi State, should be shut down to register our displeasure. Of course, this is not the way out of this problem.
I also sympathize with my members that it is bad and unacceptable that this is happening to us. But then, if because of an individual who has done something wrong and you deny other people of essential service, there will be chaos in the system.
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As I said earlier, you can imagine a situation where an individual was diagnosed to have cancer and the prescription has been made and is to go out to get that prescription and no drug store to access it. Then what would be the fate of this individual? Pharmacists provide 60 percent of our drug needs to the society. The pharmacist is a healthcare provider that is easily accessible in the community.
They provide your drug needs, counseling, educate you on preventive medicines, prepare drugs that are not commercially available for your need. These are specific preparations, for specific patients and needs. The categories of professionals who render these unique services should be respected and not to be embarrassed the way we are being embarrassed.
It is an embarrassment to us and the system. I have advised my members to remain calm as bad as the situation is. I think the government is doing something about it and I’m hopeful that his Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello will overcome these challenges for us. I believe he is working very hard tooth and nail to put this behind. He has done it before; I have confidence in him that he would do it again.
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What are your appeals to the relevant authorities?
I want to appeal to the general public, not to see us as being rich. Join hands with the relevant security agencies to see how we can fight against this menace. Those people that are involved in this crime should also know that we are there to serve them and help them in their health challenges and shouldn't see us as a soft spot or good market for their business.
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