OrderPaperToday- Nigerian Senate on Tuesday considered a bill seeking to amend the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshot Act, 2017.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central), scaled second reading at the Senate. It seeks to establish the Medical Emergency Assistance Fund to cover the treatment of victims of gunshot or knife wounds and other life-threatening emergencies.
While leading debate on the bill’s principles, Tinubu stated that the intent behind the Compulsory Treatment and Care for the Victims of Gunshot Act, 2017, was to enforce treatment for these victims.
Additionally, she stated that “prior to its enactment, victims of gunshot injuries were being refused treatment by hospitals, as a result of a misinterpretation of Section 4 of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provision) Act 1990.”
She went further to say that “the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of gunshot Act, 2017, provides that every hospital, public or private shall receive victims for treatment, with or without police clearance. Also with or without monetary deposit, persons with gunshot wounds, and criminalizes contravention.”
Also, the lawmaker added that the “Act provides a mechanism for reporting treatment of persons with gunshot wounds to the police. It precludes persons from being the subject of embarrassing interrogation for helping victims.”
Despite the Act, the flagrant disregard of human life continues unabated, she said, adding, it is particularly sad that “we continue to let brilliant and skillful minds go to waste, in what are avoidable deaths.
“In a country where emergency response is almost non-existent, and getting victims to the hospital is already burdensome. It is sad that where the victims make it to a hospital alive, they are still denied treatment and left to die.
“This is not only barbaric and inhumane; it is a violation of Hippocratic Oath which medical professionals swear to. The situation is further made worse by the fact that obtaining these police reports has been commercialized by some, thus ensuring that there is no quick and easy way to get it done.”
Narrating an incident on Friday 15th of January, 2021, the lawmaker said that David Ntekim-Rex, a 22-year old Systems Engineer was on his way home from work and was attacked around Jibowu Yaba, the Lagos Central Senatorial District. Upon arrival at the crime scene, policemen were said to be more concerned with whether he was a ”Yahoo Boy” and building a report than about saving David.
Further, Tinubu added that “it is alleged that he was rushed to the Military Hospital, Yaba where he was refused treatment. It was on the basis that they could not ascertain whether or not he was a robber. Thus he was subsequently moved to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) where he was not attended to before he gave up the ghost.”
In another incident, the Lagos lawmaker said, “in December 2019, Moradeun Balogun bled to death after she was stabbed at Gbagada in Lagos State. She was refused care at the nearest hospital where she had rushed to for medical attention.”
The Senator mentioned that the amendment bill is predicated on a need to ensure the Act, passed into law in 2017, addresses the purpose for its enactment.
Similarly, Deputy Minority leader Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP, Taraba South), in supporting the bill, stated that providing treatment for victims of gunshot injuries would assist security agencies in securing information from such persons needed to curb criminality in the country. “If you get a criminal who is injured and say you won’t treat him, you let him die. He then dies with information that would have helped the security agencies curtail the reoccurrence of such criminality,” Bwacha said.
Bwacha added that ” as a nation that is looked at as the giant of Africa, we should set a good precedent that other nations in the African sub-region would follow.”
Furthermore, Senator Ibikunle Amosun (APC, Ogun Central) insisted that the sanctity of life must be protected at all costs. He reiterated this, saying that “even if those people have committed those crimes, it is when they are alive that they can face the music, and others will learn from it.”
Finally, the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who presided at plenary, referred the bill to the Joint Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters. Also, it was referred to the Health (Secondary and Tertiary) for legislative inputs and to report back in four weeks.