Nigerian Doctors March Against Abduction Of Colleague Kidnapped In Cross River, Vow Daily Protests

Nigerian Doctors March Against Abduction Of Colleague Kidnapped In Cross River, Vow Daily Protests

Several medical doctors under the aegis of the Nigerian Medical Association have staged a protest, according to SaharaReporters.


They stormed the Cross River State Government House and House of Assembly to demand the release of their colleague, Prof. Ekanem Ephraim who was kidnapped 19 days ago.


The doctors who left their hospitals and took to the streets defied heavy rain and decried that doctors in the state were no longer safe.


According to them, 14 doctors have been kidnapped recently, a development they want the government to urgently address.


The doctors, who donned white coats marched through major streets in Calabar carrying placards with inscriptions such as: “Set Cross River free from the stranglehold of kidnappers” and “Free all persons held captive by kidnappers.”


Led by their Chairman, Dr. Felix Archibong, the medical doctors told the deputy governor, Peter Odey that they would come to the Government House every day starting from today, Tuesday, August 1, 2023, until their colleague is released and returned alive to her family.


The doctors reportedly converged on the General Hospital, Calabar from where they marched to the governor’s temporary office at Dan Archibong Lodge, a distance of about three kilometres.


The protesting doctors did not meet the governor, as he was said to have travelled out of the state. This forced them to head to the State House of Assembly where they met with the Speaker, Mr Elvert Ayambem, and later went to the Deputy Governor’s office where they gave him their protest letter.


In a video of the protest seen by SaharaReporters, Dr Archibong is seen telling the deputy governor, Odey that doctors in the state were no longer safe.


He said, “We are here again because about 15 days ago we met with you and you promised us that our kidnapped mother, teacher, and trainer will be released as soon as possible. We have waited for 19 days and we have not seen her released and we have not heard anything from the state government.

“To us, it appears as if our government is helpless; that is why we have gathered here to come and see you, and hear from you and tell you that we are not safe. We are afraid and the question is what next? After this woman, who will be the next? We have had serial kidnap of doctors. What is the offence of doctors in Cross River State?

“Is it a crime for doctors to come, stay back, and not travel out to take care of sick Cross Riverans? What have we done? Sir, we have not heard from you and that is why we are here to cry out loud to you that we are tired of hiding. We have seen that security cannot protect us. What should we do, sir?” he asked.

Addressing the protesting doctors, the deputy governor assured them that the government was working on the issue, disclosing that security agencies especially the police, three days ago raided some spots where they felt she was being held but unfortunately, she was not there.

He, however, noted that one kidnap suspect had been arrested and the police were still investigating it.

“We have thought that before now this issue would have been resolved, even yesterday I had a meeting with the commissioner of police. A lot is being done; it is a matter of security but I can assure you a lot is being done.

“I can assure you that both security and government are not sleeping, you may not be aware but three days ago we carried out a raid where we believe that the doctor is being kept unfortunately, she was not there.

“Yesterday, an arrest was made but it is not every arrest we make public because it will make the job of the security agencies more difficult. The doctor is someone I know very well and as a government, we will do everything within our power to bring her back. I will use this opportunity to charge the security agencies to do all they can do within their power to secure the release of the doctor.”

Earlier, the doctors told the Speaker of the State House of Assembly that doctors in the state have been made targets for extortions by hoodlums who see them as cash cows.

He said, “For the past 19 days, Prof. Ephraim, a grandmother in her 60s has been held in the forest under torrential rain by heartless fellows who want to extort money from her.

“We are tired of going through this kind of situation with people who come to us for treatment when they fall sick. Is it because we have chosen to stay back in Cross River to render our services to the people that we are being subjected to this inhuman treatment?”

He called on the government to expedite action to facilitate the release of the woman and others in captivity.

“We shall keep the protest on the street and continue to come here until our member is set free from captivity,” the NMA chairman stated.

Responding, the Speaker told the doctors to exercise patience while efforts were being made to rescue their colleagues from captivity.

“Efforts are being put in place to acquire sophisticated gadgets to beef up security in the state to ensure that in the next six months, situations like this would not take place again in our state,” he said.

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