Abia Doctors Protest at Govt House, Demand Release of Kidnapped Colleague
Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia
Medical doctors in Abia State hung their stethoscopes yesterday as they took to the streets in a peaceful protest demanding the release of their colleague, Professor Uwadinachi Iweha, who was kidnapped by gunmen six days ago.
The angry physicians who took their protest to Government House Umuania, barricaded the seat of power and urged the state Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, to take urgent action.
Professor Iweha was abducted on Sunday, June 6, 2022 by yet to be identified hoodlums, who accosted him while driving out of his residence in his dark-blue Toyota Highlander jeep at Umuokpara in Umuahia South Local Government Area of the state.
This latest kidnap incident occurred exactly two weeks after the Prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence Samuel Kanu-Uche and two other priests were kidnapped in Abia and their freedom was secured after a N100 million ransom was paid.
The doctors, who expressed outrage at the abduction of their colleague, carried placards with various inscriptions depicting their anger, concern and demand. Some of them read: ‘Doctors lives matter’, ‘Dr. Iweha should be released to his family’ and ‘Doctors have the right to live’.
Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Abia State chapter, Dr. Chimezie Okwuonu, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said that the abduction of Dr. Iweha has thrown the medical community in the state into confusion as physicians in Abia no longer feel safe.
He lamented that since the sad incident happened last Sunday every effort made to free their abducted colleague has not yielded the desired result.
Okwuonu said that the doctors were in Government House to seek urgent intervention by the government to effect the rescue of Dr. Iweha from the hands of his abductors, adding that the alarming incidents of kidnappings in the country must be stamped out by the government.
The NMA Chairman, therefore, warned that doctors across Abia might be compelled to embark on strike if their colleague was not released within the next 48 hours, adding that the signal is that it is no longer safe for medical doctors to carry out their duties in Abia.
He also read a communiqué issued at the end of an emergency general meeting of the medical association held at the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, before the protest commenced.
In the communiqué jointly signed by the Chairman, Dr. Okwuonu, and the Secretary, Dr. Robinson Ugwuanyi, the Abia NMA said that it had done everything within its power to free Dr. Iweha to no avail.
“This is traumatic, depressing, dehumanising and has instilled a lot of fear within the medical community whose primary objective is to save the life of Abians from the medical point of view.
“With the current state of fear caused by the kidnap and detention of our colleague, safety cannot be guaranteed to the medical doctors in Abia State and it will be difficult to attend to our normal duties since no one knows who will be the next victim,” the communique read.
Governor Ikpeazu, who addressed the protesting physicians through his Chief of Staff, Chief Okey Ahaiwe, said that efforts were being intensified to secure the release of the kidnapped doctor.
He assured that the government would leave no stone unturned in ensuring sustainable security of lives and property across the state.
However, the Abia chief executive appealed to the doctors to remain calm and refrain from carrying out their threat of withdrawing their services as efforts were being intensified to secure Dr. Iweha’s freedom.