MEMBERS of staff and patients at Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Lokoja in Kogi State Wednesday scampered for safety as unknown gunmen numbering up to 50 attacked the medical facility.
The said gunmen were reported to have arrived in three white hilux vans at about 8 am and started shooting sporadically into the air to scare people away from the area.
They reportedly chased away patients from the hospital.
This happened about the time some staff of the FMC were planning a press conference and protest to pressure the Federal Government into establishing a COVID-19 screening centre in the state.
According to Fisayo Soyombo, an investigative journalist who broke the news on Social media, the gun men used one of the vans to barricade the hospital entrance while they drove the two others into the premises of the hospital.
The attackers, according to him then proceeded to the records and admin departments, where they seized laptops and destroyed a few things and ransacked the Medical Director’s office too.
“As the siege went on, the hospital management instructed the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) officials in the hospital not to shoot, to prevent bloodshed,” Soyombo said.
Following attack the hospital associations have instructed all staff to evacuate the hospital premises thereby shutting down the hospital effective immediately, he added.
A journalist who is based in Lokoja but did not want to be mentioned said the Management of the hospital has not issued any official statement on the incident.
Asked if the attack was in connection with the planned press conference and the protest, he said, “that is very possible because they came quite early.”
“It is believed that they may be after information on certain patients earlier admitted in the facility whose health status have been subject of controversy,” he added.
The journalist further stated that the main target of the attack was not the protest but some medical records.
“Yes, there was a planned protest and health workers. They were already moblisimg for the protest when the thugs stormed the area. They did disrupted the planned protest.But the main target according to sources were the records,” he stated.
Nigerian Tribune reports that Williams Aya, Kogi State Police Public Relations Officer confirmed the attack.
Aya, a Deputy Superintended of Police (DSP) was quoted as saying that the situation was under control after Ayuba Edi , the State Police Commissioner drafted his men to the centre.
According to him, some group of people protested at the Federal Medical Center on Wednesday morning adding that management of the Federal Medical Centre is yet to officially report the incident to the command.
It would be recalled that the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja, has stopped admitting outpatients into the hospital as a result of the outbreak of COVid-19.