Medical doctors have embarked on a protest in Kogi State over the kidnapping of one of their colleagues, Dr Austin Uwumagbe, lamenting that over 48 doctors have been kidnapped in the last two years across the country.
It could be recalled that gunmen suspected to be kidnappers abducted Dr. Austin Uwumagbe, the Director of Victory Hospital-Annex at Ogaminana, under the Adavi Local Government Area of Kogi State, last week.
Our correspondent visited Kogi State Specialist Hospital Lokoja, Federal Teaching Hospital Lokoja, and some hospitals within the state capital and found that doctors were not present to attend to sick patients
Speaking on the ongoing protest by medical doctors, the Kogi State Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr Olusola Baoku, noted that medical practitioners have always been the target of criminal elements in the country.
He lamented that over 48 doctors have been kidnapped in the last two years across the country.
Baoku bemoaned the impression that medical doctors are very rich and should be subjected to kidnapping.
“If you go around Kogi State right now, you won’t find any doctors at work. We believe that an injury to one is an injury to all.
Our colleague has been in captivity for over five days, and nothing has been heard positively to secure his release.
Some of our members are agitated and restless because nobody knows who will be kidnapped next. People are no longer safe to go to work.
“We are in touch with the family, and the family is in touch with security agencies. For us, we are not involved in negotiations because we are not security agencies or government agencies. Our role is to show solidarity with our colleague, who is still in captivity.
“The general public should stop this misconception that doctors are rich. We want the public to know that we are living from hand to mouth.
Our salaries are meagre, and we build our houses with loans, making us incur huge debt. If you do your background check, a larger percentage of doctors are in debt with three or four financial institutions.
“Doctors are also burdened with the problem of assisting patients who cannot pay their hospital bills. In the end, we pay their bills with our own salaries.
You will find out that when a doctor gets a salary, it will be a remaining peanut since they have spent it on settling different debts.
They should stop kidnapping doctors for ransom because we are very poor. Our accounts are empty,” Baoku lamented.
The NMA Chairman, however, explained that the kidnappers have reached out to the family members and are demanding a very huge ransom.
“They have demanded a very huge ransom, which no single individual can raise. That is why NMA is crying for help so that our colleague can be released immediately,” he stated.
He called on the Kogi State Government and security agencies to immediately swing into action to ensure the safe release of the kidnapped victim.”