– Condemns gruesome murder of colleague
The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) has urged the federal government to set up special security and police squads to ensure more rigorous surveillance of pharmacies and other health facilities in the country, saying the constant killing of pharmacists on duty is a painful waste of valuable human resources, at a time the nation continues to search for its best hands to salvage it from the ravages of diseases and other challenges.
The association made the call in a statement signed by its National Chairman, Dr Samuel O. Adekola, and the National Secretary, Pharm. (Mrs) Abosede Idowu.
According to the ACPN, the gruesome murder of one of its shining lights and its erstwhile National Publicity Secretary, Pharm. Sunday Ike, constitutes a huge loss to the pharmacy profession and to the country in general, especially at a time when the health sector is bedeviled by manpower shortage.
The association noted that the late Sunday Ike was already planning to close his pharmacy, after his regular staff had closed for the day, when he was gruesomely murdered by some unknown gun men in the late hours of Friday June 19, 2020 at his premises, Suncel Pharmacy, located at 3rd Avenue, Gwarinpa, Abuja.
The statement noted that the culprits, as it often happens, must have acted on the presumption that pharmacy facilities are money-spinners, adding that the various misrepresentations that pharmacy premises are equivalent of business premises rather than health facilities drives the resolve of thieves and assailants to target the imagined “fortunes” COVID-19 sales bring to community pharmacies this season.
While describing the deceased as a diligent and passionate community pharmacist, who always professed and confessed hope of a better tomorrow for pharmacy, the association called on President Muhammadu Buhari and all the state governors to mandate the police and other security agencies at their disposal to set up special security and police squads to ensure more rigorous surveillance of pharmacies and other health facilities, in the ultimate public interest.
It also added that the federal government should direct the Inspector General of Police, to identify and bring the killers of Pharm. Sunday Chukwujekwu Ike to book, adding that the minimum demand is to reassure the pharmacists and other health workers that government does not take their safety for granted.
While describing the murder of Ike as unfortunate, the ACPN noted that the incident brings to mind a number of incidents in contemporary times in which pharmacists have been murdered in cold blood, as well as the scores of pharmacists who are daily harassed by men of the underworld and even security agents in the process of rendering essential duties.
The statement said: “About two years ago, a community pharmacist was killed in Port Harcourt, Rivers State; one in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State; and another one in Benue State. All were at their duty posts. Only recently within this year in the same Port Harcourt city, staffers of a community pharmacy and pharmacist were harassed and physically assaulted by men of the Nigeria Police who ended up detaining them for opening in the course of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, which still continues to claim many casualties in our country and other nations of the world.
“In what was one of the most painful incidents, a pharmacist who was the best graduating student in his class was murdered in the vicious cycle of deaths in Lagos State. For obvious reasons of its size and strategic location, Lagos State has witnessed dozens of other deaths and harassment which were not properly documented at different times.”
The ACPN also implored the FG to consider the option of securing life insurance for community pharmacists and other healthcare providers, especially those who are professionally mandated to render essential duties at times of national emergency.
The association also called on all well-meaning Nigerians, traditional rulers and spiritual leaders to come to its aid in the bid to tackle the escalating menace of attacks on its members.