Bassey Inyang in Calabar
Medical doctors in Cross River State, operating on the platform of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), stormed the state House of Assembly in Calabar, the state capital, where they laid their protest against the incessant kidnapping of their members at the door steps of the state lawmakers.
The doctors also took their protest to the Government House where they also laid a similar complaint before the state Governor, Professor Ben Ayade.
While the medical doctors were marching through some streets in Calabar to the seat of power in the state, all public and private hospitals remained closed in continuation of the indefinite strike they embarked on recently following the abduction of Dr. Inyama Marcus a week ago. As at press time, Marcus was still in captivity.
Chairman of NMA in the state, Dr. Agama Ayuk, who led the protesting doctors to the state government, lamented that in the last your years, eight medical doctors and six members of their households have been kidnapped in the state.
Ayuk said the NMA was demanding the immediate release of Marcus from those who kidnapped him last week in Akpabuyo Local Government Area close to Calabar.
Speaking at the premises of the state House of Assembly, Ayku, who was flanked by hundreds of his colleagues, said the frequent kidnapping of medical doctors in the state was “worrisome.”
Lamenting the plight of medical personnel in the state in the hands of kidnappers, he said the government should provide adequate security, not just for members of the NMA, but for everybody in the state.
According to Ayuk, “On July 18, 2019, one of our colleagues, Dr. Marcus, was kidnapped on the way to his house. Since then, he has been held captive and they are demanding outrageous sum of money which is very difficult for doctors to pay.
“This is the 14 doctors and their dependents kidnapped across the state in the last four years. We work day and night, and we feel that we are not safe in carrying out our responsibility of saving lives.”
“And if we are not safe, we cannot save lives. When the people make emergency calls, we cannot go out of our houses to attend to them. So we have to withdraw our services to strengthen the hands of government to do more in providing security for everyone in the state.
“As we speak, many people are been kidnapped in Cross River State everyday, and we believe that the government, whose primary responsibility is security and welfare of the people, should do more to protect us.
“Cross River State is no longer safe for us. We hope that this issue will be taken as a matter of urgent public importance because we want the unconditional release of our colleague.”
Ayuk said the ongoing strike by members of the NMA would continue until Marcus regains his freedom.
Speaker of the assembly, Eteng Jonah-Williams, who responded to their complaints and address NMA members, said the lawmakers would give serious attention to the demands of the medical doctors.
“We need the Permanent Secretary on security to explain to us what’s going on. Within one week alone, I know of three persons that have been kidnapped within Calabar metropolis; this is a very sad development.
“We are with you, we will make sure that something is done urgently because I see no reason why doctors who save lives should be targeted and kidnapped always,’’ the Speaker said.
At the Government House, while addressing the medical doctors, the state Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu, who stood in for the state governor, said the state government remained poised to providing security for the people of the state.
Esu promised that the state government was working seriously to secure the release of Marcus from the kidnappers den, as he appealed to the medical doctors to call of the strike in the interest of the public.