.as abductors release Cross River medical doctor

By Simon Ebegbulem & Ike Uchechukwu

BENIN—THE six females, including three reverend sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Convent, who were kidnapped by gunmen in Edo State in November 2017, has regained their freedom.

One of the victims, Veronica Ajayi, was said to have been released at about 6p.m. on Saturday, while the other five were released before 12a.m. yesterday.

Superior-General of the Catholic Convent, Sister Agatha Osarekhoe, who confirmed the development yesterday, said the sisters returned unhurt.

According to him, “we are happy; to God be the glory! One (Ajayi) was released yesterday (Saturday) and the others were also released. They are fine. They are receiving some medical check-up in a hospital.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Usang Ekanem, a medical doctor with the Cross River College of Education Medical Centre in Akamkpa Local Government Area, who was kidnapped on December 26 by gunmen, has also been released.

Recall that the armed men had, on November 13, 2017, invaded the residence of the sisters in Iguoriakhi, Ovia South-West Local Government Area of the state and went away with six of them in a speed boat.

The kidnappers were said to have later demanded a ransom of N20 million.

However, the Superior-General disclosed that no ransom was paid, even as she said that the Police did their best to ensure that the sisters regained their freedom.

Her words: “No ransom was paid. Well, we know that they (Police) did their best because they are aware. They had to do their work. The most important thing is that our sisters are out.”

She further said that the three females would be reunited with their families later, adding “certainly, they are supposed to be reunited with their families after some time.

“But with this experience, we will just get them settled down and then know what to do. Their families have been anxious. So, we will get the sisters to speak with them (families).”

Contacted, the Commissioner of Police, Johnson Kokumo, disclosed that the sisters were rescued during an operation by policemen from the command.

According to him, while the abductors fled on sighting security operatives, the victims were taken to a secure health facility for medical attention.

He added: “Police operatives closed in on the daredevil kidnappers and they had no other option than to release the reverend sisters.”

… C-River medical doctor

On Dr. Ekanem’s release, Dr. Effiong Mkpanam, the state Chairman of Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, who disclosed it in an interview with Vanguard in Calabar, the state capital, said Usang was released in the early hours of yesterday in Akamkpa.

Mkpanam, who expressed joy over the release of Dr. Ekanem, said he was released safely to his family.

His words: “As we speak right now, our colleague has been released. I have seen him and the wife and we bless God that he has re-united with his family. At the moment, he is highly traumatised. But we are grateful to God for his safe release.”

The association had, at a briefing on Friday in Calabar, threatened an indefinite withdrawal of medical services from public, private, mission and institutional hospitals in the state from today.

The NMA Chairman, who expressed dissatisfaction with the rate of doctors kidnapped in the state, explained that five doctors and three of their family members were kidnapped in 2017 by gunmen.

He further said any time a medical doctor is kidnapped in the state, NMA would embark on an indefinite withdrawal of medical services without notice.

He told Vanguard that the association will meet today to dialogue and suspend the planned action.


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