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DOCTORS SHUT ABIA HOSPITALS

By NBF News
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Following the murder of Dr. Stanley Uche, an Aba-based medical practitioner on Monday by gunmen suspected to be kidnappers after collecting ransom from wife, and other acts of kidnapping and violent crimes going on in Aba and its environs, doctors in the city under the aegis of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), have shut down health institutions (both public and private) in the area for two days in protest, promising, however, to make the closure indefinite if nothing urgent was done to arrest the situation.

This was coming on the heels of the kidnap of two medical doctors in Aba on Wednesday.

What could have turned into a street demonstration by the doctors was, however, averted when the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Okey Oga who arrived the old site of Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH), venue of the emergency meeting that could have preceded the demonstrations, appealed to the doctors to shelve their plans while the state government fashion out ways of tackling the menace.

Dr. Uche of Christian Victory Hospital was killed on Monday as he was travelling to his village in Imo State for the burial of his sister after collecting ransom from the wife who was earlier kidnapped alongside her husband. In a communiqué issued at the end of the emergency meeting and signed by its Chairman and Secretary respectively, Dr. Godwin Uwaoma and Dr. Chris Nwachi, NMA, Aba Zone, observed that in the past one year, 'not less than 20 doctors have been kidnapped in Aba making it impossible for doctors to discharge their humanitarian services.'

The doctors noted with regret that hospitals and clinics were daily closing in Aba with doctors fleeing the city due to kidnapping. They opined that the situation had gone out of hand as 'this criminality is being institutionalized as young girls and boys are being recruited on payment of N20, 000 to be trained to become kidnappers.'

The communiqué read in part, 'The Nigeria Medical Association, Aba Zone rose with the following resolutions and demands: *condemns in its entirety these despicable acts of kidnappings, killings, robbing, maiming and raping of innocent women; *That government and its agencies should, as matter of urgency, tackle head-on these menace; *That all doctors in all hospitals (private, government, missionary, etc) stay off all health institutions today and tomorrow (September 23-24, 2010); *That all kidnappers should know and remember that no town thrives without medical officers, should embrace peace and join the government's amnesty programme.'

As the meeting was going on, information filtered in that two medical doctors had been kidnapped. The doctors, whose identity could not be ascertained before filing the report, were reported to have been kidnapped between Wednesday night and Thursday morning in different locations of the city.

The Area Commander of the Nigeria Police, Aba Area Command, Mr. Ebere Onyeagoro, while addressing the medical doctors, sympathized with them over the death of their colleague in the hands of kidnappers and urged them to always volunteer information to the police.