Doctors in parts of Cross River State have expressed fears over their safety, citing the inability of security agencies to rescue 64-year-old Prof Ekanem Ephraim of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital who was kidnapped while she was attending to patients 20 days ago.
Speaking to a DAILY POST correspondent, they lamented the insecurity in the state wondering if the government wanted the few of them left to flee the country.
The doctors, in their large numbers, had defied the heavy downpour in Calabar and taken to the streets on Tuesday to draw attention to their plights.
They have vowed to protest daily and to occupy government offices to mount pressure on the government to see reasons why they must be proactive to secure lives and properties.
One of the leaders of the protesting doctors, who identified himself as Dr. Ebri, said, “We can say that we are missing Ayade already. He was very responsive in this type of situation.
“This is 20 days since our senior colleague, a mother, was abducted. Can you imagine the trauma and ordeals she is going through now in some forests, that is if she is still alive?
“Each one of us is scared of our safety. We don’t know who may be abducted next.
“We want to say that this protest will be daily. We will even occupy the State House of Assembly or other government offices to draw attention of government to the need to reinforce security not only to ourselves but the general public”.
Another doctor alleged that: “We suspect some powerful hands may be giving backing to these kidnapping enterprise. But it is a nightmare for us.”
Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association in the state, Dr Felix Archibong, appealed to the authorities to intervene and rescue Prof Ekanem Ephraim, saying they have been sleepless and strained.
Archibong, in a letter to Governor Bassey Otu, said the doctors had been deeply shaken over the kidnapping of their colleagues.
“This particular and unfortunate incident of Prof Ekanem Philip-Ephraim’s abduction has deeply shaken the medical community, and we stand in solidarity with her family in this distressing time.
“The Nigerian Medical Association Cross River State request for your support in ensuring the safety and security of all doctors. We also demand for a swift action in ensuring the release of our kidnapped colleague.
“Furthermore, we urge you to request for the deployment of a crack team from the Inspector General of Police to provide immediate solution to the menace of kidnapping in our state.
“A robust security outfit similar to Operation Akpakwu to strengthen efforts in curbing criminal activities, including kidnapping, in the state should be established immediately. These proactive measures will help protect the lives and properties of citizens and instil confidence in the people of Cross River State.
“Additionally, we appeal for your urgent intervention in the assent and implementation of the Cross River State anti-kidnapping law. This legislation will serve as a powerful deterrent against perpetrators of such heinous acts and offer justice to victims and their families.
“Your Excellency, we believe that your esteemed leadership can make a significant difference in addressing this prevailing security challenge. We trust that you will take decisive actions to prioritize the safety of citizens and protect the invaluable contributions of professionals like Prof. Ekanem Philip-Ephraim,” the letter read.
The state deputy governor, Peter Odey, and Speaker of the state Assembly, Elvert Ayambem, have assured the doctors that the state government is not sleeping over the unfortunate incident.
Odey said, “I want to appeal to you to be more patient. Government and security agencies are very much on top of the situation.
“We quite understand the anguish you are all passing through, particularly our dear mother who is your colleague. It is also very touching for us.
“This government has placed security as a top priority.”
On his part, the Speaker commended the doctors for the peaceful protest saying it was within their right to do so. He called for calm, assuring that Prof Ephraim will be released soon.