Practising medical doctors on Tuesday took to the streets of Lokoja, the Kogi State capital to protest the kidnap of one of their colleagues, Dr Austin Uwumagbe.
Unknown gunmen suspected to be kidnappers had last week abducted Dr. Austin Uwumagbe, the Director of Victory Hospital Annex at Ogaminana, in Adavi Local Government Area of Kogi State.
Newsmen who visited the Kogi State Specialist Hospital Lokoja, Federal Teaching Hospital Lokoja, and some hospitals within the state capital, noticed that doctors were not on the ground to attend to sick patients. The Kogi State Chairman of Nigeria Medical Association, Dr. Olusola Baoku, noted that medical practitioners have always been the target of criminal elements in the country.
He lamented that over 48 doctors had 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 for ransom.
He stated, “If you go around Kogi State right now, you won’t find any doctor 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 negotiation because we are not security agencies or agencies of government. Our own is to solidarise 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 as we built 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 bedevilled with the problem of assisting patients who cannot pay their hospital bills. In the end, we pay their bills from our salaries. You will find out that when a doctor gets a salary, it will be remaining peanuts since they have spent it in 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 ransom.
“They have demanded a very huge ransom, which no single individual can raise. That is why the 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.