Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has signed the State’s anti-kidnapping bill into law. The law prescribes death penalty for kidnappers.
This was contained in a communique issued this morning (Tuesday) by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) signed by the Public Relations Officer, Cross River State branch, Dr Ernest Ochang after meeting in Calabar.
“The Governor on his part informed the NMA that the anti kidnapping bill had been signed into law and he was not going to rest until the kidnappers are caught and brought to book.
“This law prescribes the death penalty for kidnappers. His Excellency mandated the State Security Adviser to work closely with the NMA in information gathering and sharing, and expressed concern at the lack of inter-agency synergy, with a promise to do all in his power to address the issue.
“He also informed the NMA of other specific measures including the provision of a patrol boat for the waterway identified as the escape route for kidnappers and enforcement of serious consequences for local chiefs aiding and abating this criminal element”, the NMA stated.
NMA however, expressed its dissatisfaction with the poor security situation in the state, leading to the frequent kidnappings which she felt were targeted at doctors and their family members.
“It is worthy of note that at least 6 doctors or their family members had been kidnapped within the last year alone. Following the kidnap of Dr Usang Ekanem, we had warned of an impending sit-at-home should he not be released unconditionally.
“He was quickly released after a ransom and another doctor grabbed on same day. We are also aware of a litany of other kidnappings across the state including a Red cross volunteer/primary school teacher who is still in captivity and the NMA demands his unconditional release”, they said.
“NMA appreciates the introduction of homeland security but expresses concern at the poor information sharing and synergy between security agencies.
“We feel this is the real challenge and possible cause of the absurdity which permits victims to be transported at ease within the state particularly between the hours of 12 and 4am.
“We are glad to inform you that beyond the security challenges, we had time to discuss other issues and proffered ways forward on health issues in the State particularly the dearth of doctors in the State service, possible collaboration opportunities between the State and health care resources in the Teaching Hospital and other tertiary health facilities, implementation challenges on Ayade-care and multiple taxation of private health facilities.
“We wish to thank the general public particularly the press for standing with us in this struggle to emancipate our State from hoodlums and mean-minded criminals.
“We swore to save lives but our lives were continually being threatened. We had to look over our shoulders. The terror and fear was beginning to affect our work.
“We also wish to use this opportunity to inform the general public of the re-emergence of lassa in Ebonyi State which has claimed the lives of 2 doctors and a nurse while 1 doctor is in intensive care. We need to be proactive and watchful as Ebonyi state is close by”, NMA warned.