By Adedayo Akinwale
A bill seeking compulsory treatment of armed attack victims without police clearance has passed second reading in the House of Representatives.
The bill seeks to empower hospitals- both public and private to treat victims of armed attack aside gunshots injuries without a police clearance in order to save the victims the agony of being rejected as it is presently the case in Nigeria.
The bill titled, ‘A bill for an Act to amend the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshots Act 2017’, thereby expanding the scope of its application to include other forms of weapons other than firearms that could be used to inflict injuries on a victim was sponsored by Hon. Wale Raji.
Leading the debate on the bill at the plenary on Thursday, Raji said originally, the bill was the crux of the compulsory treatment and care for victims of gunshots Act, 2017.
He said due to the restricted coverage of this Act, many innocent victims of other dangerous weapons other than firearms have consistently been rejected by the hospitals for want of a police clearance, which has led to their untimely death.
Raji explained that with the amendment of the law which would accommodate innocent victims who sustained injuries other than gunshot injuries, the National Assembly would have consciously put an end to the conundrum of hospitals refusing to treat dying patients who have sustained injuries other than gunshots injuries and without a police clearance.
He stated: “The intent of the extant law as it is today is to the effect that an innocent victim who sustained a grievous bodily injury from a weapon other than gun/firearm will be deprived medical attention if he/she is without a police clearance. This outrageous act of the hospitals leading to the death of innocent victims indirectly constitutes a deprivation of their right to be alive.
“The fulcrum of this amendment is to preserve the lives of innocent victims who have suffered injuries from attacks other than gun/firearms injuries and in urgent need of medical attention. The law as it is today is not in favour of victims of attacks not related with firearms and hence there is urgent need for this hallow chamber to widen the scope of the extant law’s application.
“This amendment will be a great relief to innocent victims of non-firearms attack without a police clearance and also creates a statutory protection from prosecution for hospitals engaging in the protection of such lives. Also, there is a proposed attempt to amend the title of this bill in order to reflect the true intent of the law.”
Raji added that the justification of this amendment rest on the fact that constitutionally, every Nigerian citizen has a right to life and no one should be deprived intentionally of his life save in execution of the sentence of a court where such a person has been found to be guilty.
The lawmaker noted that there is no rationale for sending an injured victim, who is supposed to be receiving treatment in preservation of his life to the police station in order to obtain a police clearance.
He said some of these victims are severely injured to the extent that they cannot even make it to the hospital alive without the help of a paramedic on course, let alone subjecting such a person to the police station.
“Mr. Speaker, this proposed amendment is timely in view of the perilous times we live in, where kidnapping and robbery attacks with all sorts of weapon is prevalent.
“The victims of these heinous attacks need to be well taken care of and cannot be deprived of their right to life which in itself is a constitutional right. An attempt by any hospital in rejecting a victim of an attack on account of a police clearance is tantamount to passing a death sentence on such patient,” he added.