President Tinubu, IGP Aware Of Prof. Ekanem’s Kidnap – Governor Otu Tells NMA 

In Breaking News, Health

By Jonathan Ugbal

Cross River Governor, Senator Bassey Edet Otu on Monday told members of the State’s chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) that Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, and the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun are aware of the kidnap of their colleague, Professor Ekanem Ephraim who has spent 25 days in captivity.

“It is true that we are promised a season of sweetness. We will continue to live by that. And I know that Rome was not built in a day. The journey of 1000 miles begins one day, not too long. We will clear our society of all miscreants. We are discussing both at the federal level. The president is aware of this case. The IG is aware of this case. Special squads have been sent in here. We are doing all that we can to bring her back,” Otu said while addressing the dozens of Doctors who turned out in their white laboratory coats at the Brigadier Dan Archibong lodge which serves as the temporary Governor’s office.

He said he can’t disclose much of the strategies in place to ensure the safe return of the abducted medical practitioner, adding that; “There is nothing we have not done, both in terms of price reward for information and everything. I don’t want to unveil the security activities that have gone on here. Some of them the authorities have been very close to. But my order was that she must be brought back alive. If not, I believe by now that issue would have been settled.”

He posited that the issue was not caused by anyone present while lamenting that Doctors have been targeted – a situation that he said his administration will, “devise a means that this will always be the very last time it will happen.”

Furthermore, the Governor said families were crying and hence the need for them to restore services while pledging that his administration will ensure their decision to stay back instead of traveling abroad will be rewarded.

“We recognize your contribution fully. We recognize your sacrifice fully. We recognize your investment. We recognize your time. So I want to appreciate all of you for coming. Yes, it is a bad situation. But at the darkest end of the tunnel, there is always a light. I will not want us to be despondent. I will not want you to go back with the mind that we are defeated. We are not defeated. Definitely, in the end, God’s will is going to prevail,” he said.

The sexagenarian was abducted in her private clinic by gunmen who posed as patients on July 13, 2023, the NMA says. A representative, Dr. Dino Magam also said there are reports that there has been no proof of life for 17 days which is why they have been protesting since last week and have withdrawn their services.

Magam, who described the kidnappers as “heartless,” averred that; “today marks 25 days in captivity. Rumors reaching us are that in the last 17 days, we have not heard of proof of life as it stands now. We are not even sure if our colleague is safe if she is well, and if she is alive.”

He reminded the Governor that the vote for him was a social contract, hence the need for him to act immediately as the actions of the NMA was beyond the pain felt by Professor Ekanem.

“We have come here believing that this fight is not only for medical doctors but if I may inform you sir, 14 of our colleagues have been kidnapped in the past, not to mention some of our colleagues’ relatives. But our struggle is not for us alone. Our struggle is also for those families who have had their family members kidnapped. Those families who have paid exorbitant ransoms including medical doctors to have their family members released to them. And yet there are those who have been very unlucky because their family members did not return to them. 

“We have come to you sir, believing that an injury to one Cross Riverian is an injury to all Cross Riverians. We have come to believe that sir, that by our mandate, you have the power, you have the integrity, you have the power to clad yourself in military uniform and comb the creeks and highways and forests of Cross River State to ensure that our colleague will be released to us today.” Magam said.

Also, he lamented that due to the fear of returning to work, Doctors can not give an account of the morbidity and mortality rates in health institutions since they withdrew their services.

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