Doctors under the aegis of the Nigeria Medical Association in Cross River State on Wednesday made good their threat to down tools following the incessant kidnap of their colleagues in the state.
The doctors had, on Tuesday, threatened to down tools on the grounds that no fewer than six doctors, including members of their families, have been kidnapped in the last few months.
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 (January 7), the doctors had expressed relief over the release of their colleague in the Cross River State College of Education Medical Centre in Akamkpa Local Government Area, Dr. Usang Ekanem, who was kidnapped on December 26, 2017.
The aggrieved doctors, who protested along major streets in Calabar, terminating at the Governor’s Office, expressed displeasure with the state government over its alleged approach to the kidnap of doctors.
Chairman of the state NMA, Dr. Effiong Mkpanam, vowed that all cadres of hospitals would be closed to patients until their colleague is 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 is no longer safe for residents.
Also speaking, 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 is released.
He said subsequently, whenever a doctor is kidnapped, his/her colleagues would embark on sit-at-home action.
“The litmus test for any leader is security and safety of citizens. 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 to bring 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 government was doing everything possible to secure the release of the abducted doctor.
She noted that Governor 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.