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UCTH medical interns protest against 11 months unpaid salaries

By Anietie Akpan, Calabar
05 October 2021   |   3:21 am
Barely 24 hours after resident doctors suspended their strike, 352 intern doctors of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), yesterday, protested against their 11 months unpaid salaries.

Barely 24 hours after resident doctors suspended their strike, 352 intern doctors of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), yesterday, protested against their 11 months unpaid salaries.

They stated the peaceful protest on the streets of Calabar, the Cross River State capital, chanting solidarity songs and carrying placards with various inscriptions.

One of the interns, Nmuoeke Maurine, said: “We are protesting over our 11 months unpaid salaries and over two months suspension, which we don’t even know when it will be lifted.

“We have not done anything to the management to attract this kind of unfair treatment, none of us received up to a month salary in the last 11 months, which is very discouraging.”

Another intern, Shadrach Atheodor, said: “Our emphasis is that we should be paid. I was invited to the Department of Stage Services (DSS) Office yesterday, where we were warned against any peaceful protest. The DSS has tried their best, but if the management does the needful, we won’t be protesting.

“We have written several memos to the Chief Medical Director (CMD), but he has not responded to any of them. We are asking for our salaries.”

Also, Gideon Duba said whenever they tried to engage management of the UCTH for the payment, it kept evading the issue, insisting that it was a national issue.

Gideon, who said their salaries amounted to about N480 million, asked the Federal Government, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, to help resolve the non-payment of salaries.

“We have worked and asked for our salary, but they said we are disturbing and causing security threats. A memo was released on August 2, 2021, which placed us on one-month suspension, to resolve the issue, but until now, nothing has been done.

“They said we should write a letter of apology, which we have done, yet there is no solution. The management is not sincere. Our 352 members are owed over N480 million and when we complain, they call security agencies after us.

But UCTH sources confirmed that the Federal Government had sent money for payment of the interns to the hospital, but claimed that the hospital diverted the fund for other purposes.

Similarly, salary arrears for staff members since 2016 had suffered same fate despite their release by the Federal Government.

However, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of UCTH, Prof. Ikpeme Ikpeme, denied the claims, saying the issue had been sent to the Federal Government, as all their documents have been prepared and sent to the Ministry of Health for verification and payment.