Any Hospital That Rejects Gunshot Victims Should Face Criminal Prosecution- Kunle Edun
The erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Kunle Edun, has said any hospital that rejects a gunshot victim should face criminal prosecution for violating the material provisions of the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshots Act, 2017 with impunity.
His comment followed the gruesome murder of a lawyer, Bolanle Raheem, on December 25, 2022 by ASP Drambi Vandi at Ajah bridge, Lagos State. Citing some sections of the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshots Act, 2017, Edun said: “Section 1 provides that as from the commencement of this Act, every hospital in Nigeria, whether public or private, shall accept or receive, for immediate and adequate treatment, with or without police clearance, any person with a gunshot wound.
“Section 2(2)(a) of the same Act provides that a person with a gunshot wound shall be received for immediate and adequate treatment by any hospital in Nigeria with or without monetary deposit.
“It is mandatory for every hospital (the Act only mentioned hospitals) to accept and treat every gunshot victim. There are minimum standards set by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) before any hospital can be set up and one of the conditions is that such hospitals must have minimum competent medical staff and facilities.
“Probably, if the hospitals had accepted Raheem and offered her some form of first aid or made their ambulance available for her to be rushed to a better equipped hospital, she could have survived.
“The Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshots Act, 2017 made no provision for any hospital to exercise any discretion to either accept or reject a gunshot victim. It is a mandatory duty that has both health and security implications for society. It is the primary duty of doctors to save lives.”
Citing other sections of the Act, Edun said Section 11 provides that any person or facility including any police officer, other security agents or hospitals who stand, by and fails to perform his duty under the 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.
He also said Section 14(1) of the same Act further provides that “in addition to any other penalty under the Act, the High Court shall order a person or corporate body convicted of an offence to make restitution to the victim by directing the person or corporate body to pay to the victim an amount equivalent to the loss sustained by the victim.”
He noted that the Act has de-emphasised the payment of money before treating a gunshot victim. Under the Act, Edun explained, any gunshot victim can be taken to Eko Hospital, St. Nicholas Hospital or any of the top hospitals in Nigeria without paying any deposit.
“It becomes a duty imposed by law on such hospitals to treat the victim, keep a record of the treatment and notify the Police and victim’s relations within a reasonable time (the Act states 2 hours) of commencing treatment
See section 3(1), 10 and 12 of the Act.”He further urged the NMA to enlighten its members of their duties under the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshots Act, 2017, noting that the law admits no excuse on the part of the hospitals.
“The usual excuse of lack of adequate facilities or personnel is not a ground to escape the penal provisions of the law. It is more like a strict liability offence,” he declared.