Six Sisters and a doctor who had been abducted are released
following the operation, three Sisters and three novices of the congregation Eucharistic Heart of Jesus were rescued after 53 days of captivity. According to local media, one of the sisters, Veronica Ajayi, was released at 6 pm on Saturday, 6 January , while the other five were released the next day. 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.
On 13 November 2017 armed men forced their way into the convent of the Sisters in Iguoriakhi, Edo state, in southern Nigeria and abducted six of them in a speed boat. The kidnappers were said to have later demanded a ransom of N20 million but Sister Agatha Osarekhoe, Superior of the convent, said “No ransom was paid. We know that the police did their best and had to do their job. The most important thing is that our Sisters are well and that soon they will be able to see their families.”
“We are happy, glory to God!” said the Superior after the release of her fellow Sisters. She added that the Sisters “are well and are undergoing a medical checkup in hospital.” Following their traumatic experience, the Sisters will be allowed time to settle down. “Their families have been anxious. So, we will get the sisters to speak with them ,” she added.
Recently the Archbishop of Lagos, Dom Alfred Martins, had asked the security forces to increase their efforts to rescue the Sisters. The local police commissioner, Johnson Kokumo, explained that the release of the religious Sisters came after an operation by policemen from the command. He said: “Police operatives closed in on the daredevil kidnappers and they had no other option than to release the reverend sisters.”When the abductors fled on sighting security operatives, the victims were taken to a secure health facility for medical attention.
Dr. Effiong Mkpanam, the state Chairman of Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, expressed joy over the release of Dr. Ekanem who was released safely to his family. His said “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.”
At a briefing on 5 Jan in Calabar, the NMA had threatened an indefinite withdrawal of medical services without notice. from public, private, mission and institutional hospitals any time a medical doctor is kidnapped in the state. The NMA Chairman, who expressed concern at the rate doctors were being kidnapped in the state, explained that five doctors and three of their family members were kidnapped in 2017 by gunmen. He said the Association would now suspend the planned strike action and hold further dialogue with the authorities.