By Dennis Agbo
Last Friday’s bloody election for leadership of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, in Enugu State has continued to cast doubt on the integrity of the medical doctors who swore the Hippocratic Oath to save lives but turned around to constitute threat to lives of their members.
Main cause for the chaos and eventual spill of blood at the election venues was the issue of non-payment of professional fees which the outgoing chairman of NMA, Dr. Ike Okwesili accused the Resident Doctors of the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, Parklane of masterminding the crisis.
Issues prelude to the election had resulted in alleged sack of Okwesili who was accused of abuse of power among other allegations. Okwesili however refuted the alleged suspension from office, stating that interests in the election were the cause of problem.
Matters however got worse on the Election Day when about 106 doctors were allegedly prevented from voting, for non-remittance of their professional fees on time.
According to the Chairman of the Resident Doctors Association in Parklane Hospital, Dr Chima Edoga said: “Their problem was that I sent our membership list last month but when I came to the venue of the election, I was told that there was no list of my members, that what they asked me to send was not what I sent. They said that the money we paid could only allow106 members. I had objection but I thought that for the interest of peace let the 106 people vote.
“I brought the list of 106 to the returning officer who told me to wait and after some time, he said that he cannot even allow the 106 to vote. I said how do you disenfranchise a whole centre that has remitted up to N7 million? I told him it will cause a problem and that I don’t want any problem.
“The police spoke to them and they agreed they will vote but Dr Okwesili came and whispered into the ear of the returning officer and he changed his mind.” again and said he won’t allow the 106 doctors to vote. Okwesili went and grabbed the ballot box from the chairman and that provoked the action that happened.”
After the election materials were upturned and scattered at the Okpara Square, venue of the election, the election panel gathered the materials back and relocated to nearby Toscana Hotel to complete the process, but one of the Chairmanship candidates of the election, Dr JOT Onyia stormed the venue with his supporters and allegedly forced their way into the venue.
The action resulted in the breaking of the glass of the hotel and bloody causality that Dr Onyia sustained.
The outing Chairman of the Association, Dr Okwesili, also reportedly escaped through the window with half clothes and half shoe.
One of the candidates in the election who witnessed the fracas but pleaded for anonymity said: “The police came and warned against breach of peace. The election was peaceful until about 3pm when the group invaded the place, when they were not eligible to vote. They were told that it was not in the powers of the election committee to introduce any other list outside the one submitted by the Executive, of the financially up to date members, they resist and started destroying the ballot boxes and all that.
“They traced the electoral committee to Toscana hotel and because the door was locked, their own Chairmanship candidate that led the violence, Dr. JOT Onyia had to use his hand and elbow and broke the window of the hall, gained entrance into the hall and scattered the ballot boxes again and unleashed assault on the Chairman, Dr. Okwesili.”
The three members of the NMA Electoral Committee, ELECO, Doctors Chuka Agunwa, Innocent Ugwu and Omosivie Ugwu in their report referred to the election as an aborted exercise. They said “the events of August 6th 2020 are embarrassing and quite regrettable and have cast our noble profession in bad light. We seek a peaceful resolution to the challenge thrown up by this unfortunate debacle.”