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11 Jan 2018

Doctors down tools over kidnap of colleagues in Cross River

Doctors under the aegis of the Nigeria Medical Association in Cross River State on Wednesday made good their threat to down tools following incessant kidnap of their colleagues in the state.
The doctors had on Tuesday threatened to go on strike on the grounds that no fewer than six doctors, including members of the victims’ families, had been kidnapped in recent times.

The commencement of the sit-at-home action was sequel to the latest abduction of a Senior Registrar in the Department of Paediatrics, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Dr Emem Udoh, who was kidnapped on Monday.

Earlier on Sunday, the doctors had expressed relief over the release of their colleague in the Cross River State College of Education Medical Centre in the Akamkpa Local Government Area, Dr Usang Ekanem, who was kidnapped on December 26, 2017.

The aggrieved doctors, who protested along major streets in Calabar before stopping at the governor’s office, expressed displeasure at the state government approach to the kidnap of doctors.

The Chairman of the state NMA, Dr Effiong Mkpanam, vowed that all cadres of hospitals would be closed to patients until their colleague was released and the state of insecurity addressed.

He said, “We are not safe and we want people to know that we cannot go to work because we are not safe.  We want unconditional release of Dr Emem Udoh, who is a nursing mother and until she is released, all the doctors in Cross River State will sit at home.  Anybody who wants medical treatment should go to the neighbouring state.”

Mkpanam decried the level of insecurity in the state, adding that Cross River was no longer safe for residents.

The Public Relations Officer of the NMA in the state, Dr Ernest Ochang, said all hospitals, including private and missionary hospitals, would remain closed until Udoh was released.

“The litmus test for any leader is security and safety of his followers. But when we are not safe, we dare say that the government has failed the litmus test.

“The government, however, has the litmus test of redeeming itself which is bringing Dr Emem Udoh back. If Udoh is brought back today, we will resume work today, but until then, anyone seeking medical attention in Cross River State should go to neighbouring states,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the government, the Secretary to the State Government, Ms. Tina Agbor, said the government was doing its best to secure the release of the abducted doctor.

She noted that the state Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, was unhappy with the security situation.

“It is unfortunate that soon after one of the doctors was released, another one was abducted, and this time, a woman.  I am a woman and right now, the state security adviser is on the streets trying to solve this problem. You do not need to come here to remind us of our duty because we are doing something about it,” she said.

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