THE State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has suspended its 40-day-old strike embarked upon to demand the release of their kidnapped colleague, Professor Ekanem Ephraim, by unidentified gunmen.
Ephraim was abducted from her facility at Mountain of Fire, by Atimbo road, Calabar Municipality Local Government Area (LGA) of the state on July 13.
Speaking with journalists in Calabar on Saturday, the state Chairman of the association, Dr Felix Archibong, explained that the decision to suspend the industrial action was reached at an emergency meeting earlier held with members of the association.
Archibong stated that they were not insensitive to the plight of Cross Riverians but also mindful of the fact that medical doctors are also human beings with families and as such must not be molested or dehumanised by kidnappers.
“Arising from an emergency meeting from our secretariat today, following an appeal letter from the governor of the state, Sen Bassey Otu, the Congress decided to suspend the strike for two weeks,” the NMA chairman said.
“We also heed the advice of our National President to give government soft landing, hence the decision to suspend the strike, we have given the government two weeks to get back our colleague alive.
“If any of our member is kidnapped within this period we won’t hesitate going back to continue the industrial action, but we want to give government benefit of doubt based on the appeal of the governor and the assurance he has given us that she is still alive and will regain her freedom.”
Archibong acknowledged that the state government had announced a N5 million bounty to be given to anyone with useful information for the arrest of those behind the kidnap and eventual release of Ephraim.
“We are not calling off the industrial action, we only suspended it because according to the governor, a lot of Cross Riverians are suffering and many are dying,” the NMA chairman said.
“As an association, we are not aware because we have not been going to our offices since the strike was declared. We only want to allow the government to fulfil the promise it has made and we have started seeing positive steps as security presence has increased in the metropolis.
“We are also appealing to those behind her abduction, to please release her. We are not trying to flex muscles with anyone, but all we ask for is the release of our colleague back to us alive.”