Professor Ekanem Ephraim, a colleague who had been abducted by unidentified gunmen, had been on a 40-day strike by the Cross River State branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
On July 13, Ephraim was kidnapped from her location in Mountain of Fire, near Atimbo Road, in the state’s Calabar Municipality Local Government Area (LGA).
Dr. Felix Archibong, state chairman of the association, said in a Saturday interview with journalists in Calabar that the decision to halt the strike was made at an earlier emergency meeting with association members.
Archibong claimed that while they were aware of the situation of Cross River residents, they were also conscious of the reality that doctors are also people with families and as such shouldn’t be mistreated or dehumanized by captors.
The Congress resolved to halt the strike for two weeks as a result of an emergency meeting held by the NMA secretariat today and an appeal letter from the state’s governor, Sen. Bassey Otu.
We also decided to halt the strike since our National President had advised us to give the administration a “soft landing.” The government has been given two weeks to bring our colleague back alive.
“If any of our members are abducted within this time frame, we won’t hesitate to return and resume the strike, but we want to give the government the benefit of the doubt based on the governor’s appeal and his assurance that she is still alive and will be set free.”
Archibong confirmed that the state government had set up a N5 million reward for anyone with information leading to the capture of those responsible for Ephraim’s kidnapping and ultimate release.
The governor claims that many Cross Riverians are suffering and are even dying. However, the NMA chairman clarified that the strike was just being suspended.
Since we haven’t been to our offices since the strike was called, as an association, we are unaware. We merely want to allow the administration to follow through on its commitments, and as the city’s security presence has grown, we have already begun to notice encouraging developments.
“We are also pleading with the people responsible for her kidnapping to free her. All we seek for is the return of our colleague to us alive; we are not attempting to show off to anyone.