Cross River kicks as doctors protest colleague’s kidnap

The Deputy Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ivara Esu, on Thursday decried the strike and protest by medical doctors in Calabar.

The doctors went on strike last Friday following the kidnap of Dr Marcus Inyama, a consultant haematologist at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital on July 18, 2019.

Esu, who addressed the placard-carrying doctors, said, “The truth is that the government is more concerned than yourselves. Today, it is the medical doctors, tomorrow it may be a very top politician. It may be another person; everybody is equally important.

“Let it not look like the government has not done much for a particular group. I did tell you how important we consider your profession, because you can determine life and death by your presence or action.

“So, to me, nobody knew this kind of thing could happen. However, it has happened. We promptly went into action. We are monitoring the movement of your colleague from minute to minute. Where he is, who is there and so on.

“I want to assure you that these pronouncements and demonstration won’t help us. It has not helped us for you to withdraw your services from the various hospitals because unfortunately, there are more important persons than those kidnappers.

“People may die and some persons may have died for not being attended to and these kidnappers, once they know that you are making this kind of pronouncement, initially they might not have known that this is a high profile person they are having.”

Esu, who addressed the placard-carrying doctors, told them at the gate to the Governor’s Office that the strike could make the kidnappers demand for higher ransom if they discovered that a high profile victim was in their custody.

He added, “The normal demand they use to make is N3m, N5m. Before you know it, it is now N50m and just like you have this policy of not paying ransom, we also have it, but we have our own way, which I cannot disclose.

“We trying what we can to get him rescued. I am saying that perhaps we should back off a bit in terms of your actions.”

In his remarks, the state branch Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr Agam Ayuk, who spoke before the deputy governor’s response, said, “We are here with great sadness. Specifically, on July 18, Dr Marcus Inyama, a consultant haematologist with the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, was kidnapped just at the entrance to his house at Akpabuyo.

“Since then, the kidnappers have been demanding very outrageous amounts. For us as an association, we don’t pay ransom and we don’t contribute for ransom payment.

“We are here with a very specific request. For the past four years, we have had at least 14 kidnapping of doctors, their dependants, wives or family members. Two months ago, one of our doctors was kidnapped at Ogoja.

“We are also aware that there have been several kidnappings in the state. Just two days ago, a banker was kidnapped. A former honourable was kidnapped at the Effio-Ette junction. We have come to say that we need more from the government. We need, first of all, the safe and unconditional release of Dr Marcus Inyama.

“Secondly, we need more security in Cross River State. The economy and business in Cross River State are not growing because of insecurity. We cannot go to work; we work both day and night. We are helpless; we cannot leave the house, but we believe that the government has what it takes to solve this.”

Earlier, the doctors had stormed the state House of Assembly, where the Speaker, Eteng Williams, addressed them and assured them that the matter would be treated as a matter of urgent public importance.

Williams promised to look into the anti-kidnapping bill of the state with a view to passing it into law if it had not been passed already.


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