By; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
As the spate of kidnapping returns in Cross River State, the state chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has directed all its members to observe an indefinite withdrawal of services to members of the public until their abducted colleague, Dr Usang Ekanem, is safely released.
Also, the association demands that adequate measures be taken to forestall future occurrences.
The decision was taken at the end of an emergency general meeting in Calabar by the Chairman of the Association, Dr Effiong Mkpanam
while briefing newsmen.
He decried “an upsurge in the cases of targeted kidnapping of medical practitioners.”
Mkpanam said “Ekanem, who is with the College of Education Medical Centre in Akamkpa local government area, was abducted on December 26, 2017, with the kidnappers demanding a ransome of N100 million.
The NMA, he said “hereby instructs all its members, both in Public and Private Medical Facilities (University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Institutional Hospitals, General Hospitals, Medical Centres, Mission Hospitals and Private Clinics and Hospitals) within Cross River State, that as from 8.00am of Monday 8th January, 2018, to observe a total and indefinite withdrawal of services to members of the public, until such a time that our Colleague is safely released by his captors and measures taken to forestall future occurrences, he said”.
He said we regret any inconveniences this action taken may cause and urged members of the public requiring medical attention within the period, to seek services in neighbouring states of the federation.
Mkpanam said in the past two years, the Association has had cause to draw the attention of the authorities to the incessant cases of kidnappings and other urban crimes, which have threatened the socio economic fabric of the state.
“We have also noticed with utter dismay and drawn attention of the authorities to an upsurge in the cases of targeted kidnapping of medical practitioners. These attacks are frequently perpetrated on our colleagues, while they are discharging their legitimate duties of saving lives”.
It is noteworthy that in the last one year within the State capital alone, five doctors and three of their dependents and family members have been kidnapped at various times and locations. This works out at nearly one medical doctor- targeted kidnap per month within the State capital alone!
“In as much as we as doctors are sworn to an oath that requires us to save the lives of members of the public who are in need of our skill set, we have observed with dismay a dangerous trend in which the security and lives of the same doctor is being threatened by some disgruntled members of society, while the state authorities and security agencies stand aloof and complacent at the very least”.
“As we address you today, it is with grief that we make public the fact that a very Senior Medical Practitioner and a one-time Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), has been in the kidnappers den for ten days and counting, specifically from Tuesday 26th December, 2017 and the State Government and various security agencies in the state seem unable to offer any meaningful assistance towards securing his release.
“It is from the foregoing, that the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Cross River state branch arising from this emergency general meeting and believing it has allowed enough time for constructive negotiations, hereby make bold to take the following measures until the safe release of our colleague from his captivity in the kidnapper’s den is facilitated by those saddled with that responsibility.
“We are hereby using this medium to call on the following persons, the state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, the chief security officer of Cross River; the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; the Assistant Inspector-General Police (AIG) Zone 6, Abubakar Marafa; the Commissioner of Police Cross River State Command, Hafiz Inuwa; the Director-General Department of State Services, Lawal Musa Daura; and the State Director, Department of State Services to immediately intervene as a matter of urgency, to ensure the immediate safe release of our colleague and to forestall the unpleasant consequences that a total shut down of medical services will cause the good people of Cross River”.
“We also enjoin the security agencies in the State, to heighten their intelligence gathering and service delivery to prevent future reoccurrence of “DOCTOR- TARGETED” kidnappings in Cross River State.
“The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Cross River State regrets any inconveniences this action taken may cause the general public and wish to advice law abiding members of the public requiring Medical Attention within this period, to seek services in neighboring States of the Federation. We cannot continue to safeguard the lives of others, while ours is under constant threat by kidnappers and armed bandits and those charged with the responsibility of offering protection simply watch us suffer physical and psychological trauma”.
It would be recalled that over 15 persons were allegedly kidnapped from December 1 to January 3, 2018.