Arising from the increasing spate of deaths of gunshot victims due to refusal of hospitals to treat them without a police report, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), the Crime Victims Foundation of Nigeria (CRIVIFON) has called for the prosecution of hospitals and medical staff who reject such victims contrary to the provisions of the COMPULSORY TREATMENT AND CARE FOR VICTIMS OF GUNSHOTS ACT, 2017.
While condemning in strong terms the recently reported cases of rejection of gunshot victims by hospitals, which eventually led to their death, the Foundation highlighted that doctors and hospitals are breaching the provisions of the law thereby exposing themselves to criminal and civil liability.
In particular, Section 2 of the Victims of Gunshots Act states that “Every person, including security agents, shall render every possible assistance to any person with gunshot wounds and ensure that the person is taken to the nearest hospital for immediate treatment.”
Furthermore, Section 11 states that “Any person or authority including any police officer, other security agent or hospital who stands by and fails to perform his duty under this Act which results in the unnecessary death of any person with gunshot wounds commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for a term of five years or both.”
In a statement signed by its Executive Director, Barr.(Mrs) Gloria Egbuji and issued on Monday, the Foundation described the demand for police report before treatment as totally unnecessary because the law now empowers hospitals to commence treatment before filing a police report. The Foundation has therefore called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Commissioners of Police to fish out all such offending or negligent hospitals and their medical staff for prosecution in order to reverse this ugly trend.
While acknowledging the concerns of hospitals and doctors who complain about police harassment, the Foundation has pointed out that such rogue policemen are acting against the law and should be reported immediately to their superiors rather than allow them intimidate hospitals into flouting the law and causing unnecessary loss of lives.
At the same time, CRIVIFON has called on the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), Association of General & Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN) and other health sector bodies to educate their members on the need to obey the COMPULSORY TREATMENT AND CARE FOR VICTIMS OF GUNSHOTS ACT, 2017.
The Foundation recalled some recent incidents and wondered why the NMA and the MDCN have been mute over such abnormal and illegal practices by medical professionals.
A gospel music producer popularly known as Ebenezer Ayeni was shot on Thursday 10th June, 2021 at his Ibadan, Oyo State residence by armed robbers few days to his wedding. He was said to have been rushed to the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan and later a private hospital but reportedly rejected by hospital staff who demanded a police report before they could treat his gunshot injury. He died hours later in a pool of his own blood.
The Foundation also recalled that on April 15, 2021, a 32-year-old Odiri Onosigho; an accountant was similarly shot by armed robbers who were trying to collect his phone at First Gate Bus Stop, FESTAC in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos. The accountant allegedly lost his life after being rejected by hospitals due to non-presentation of police report.
In acknowledging that there may be other reasons why hospitals find it difficult to manage some patients such as funding or competence, CRIVIFON is calling for a conference of medical associations, the Police and Civil Society where those issues can be discussed and practical solutions proffered to avoid further loss of lives. The Foundation has in the same vein urged the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Civil Society Organizations, Human Rights Activists to get involved before more Nigerians are lost through such inhuman attitude of medical staff in the nation’s hospitals.
It is on record that CRIVIFON was in the fore front of agitation for the acceptance of Gunshots Victims for treatment by hospitals across the federation without subjecting them to getting police report before their lives are saved. The Foundation’s advocacy on the right of gunshot victims to receive unhindered access to medical services began sometime in 1998 and its Executive Director never relented until the enactment of the Act in 2018.