Joshua J. Omojuwa argues the need to crack down on crimes

Greatness Olorunfemi came from humble beginnings. From the stories she told about herself, she had it pretty tough. That was further compounded by a marriage that turned out to make things worse for her. In the end, Greatness came through all of that to build a thriving professional life as a Human Resource consultant, author and speaker. Greatness sought to touch lives and she did. For work, she shuttled between Lagos and Abuja. She had a positive outlook to life and never allowed for anything to hold her back.

If she did not defy the numerous challenges she met on the way to finding her feet, she probably would have ended up living one long tortuous and empty life. She chose a different path. The story of Greatness is one of what is possible in Nigeria. That in the midst of all our challenges, here, grass to grace stories are not only possible, many people live them. The Greatness story that was turning out to be one long beautiful inspiration one could share to inspire other Nigerians suddenly turned sour on the 28th of September when two tragedies combined to kill her.

Greatness was a victim of ‘one-chance’ robbery in Abuja. She was reportedly thrown out of a vehicle between Maitama-Kubwa express, towards Wuse, Berger. For those who aren’t aware, ‘one-chance’ are fake transporters who operate along primarily express roads. They pick passengers outside parks, then after driving them over a short distance, they rob them of their belongings and then throw them out of the moving vehicle. People have been killed at times. They disguise as commuters and transporters but in actual fact set out to rob unsuspecting passengers of their belongings, often targeting phones, laptops and cash. They even use Point of Sale (PoS) machines to clear the accounts of their victims.

This form of robbery is quite prevalent. I take precautions when picking taxis at the airport. Whilst transport operators that work under unions may be a tad more expensive, they are obviously safer because they work within a community. Everyone knows everyone, so that helps to ensure that people put on their best behaviour when dealing with passengers. Whenever you have a choice, avoid cabs that aren’t operating within this sort of design.

Sadly though, out on our roads with limited travel options, commuters don’t feel like they have the option of walking into a bus or taxi park to pick one. Not to mention, ‘along’, taxis people pick on the way are quite a thing. These ‘one-chance’ robberies are more rampant than they ought to be.

Two immediate responses to this challenge is the need for the FCT authorities to ramp up security and also come hard against unregistered taxis and buses in the city. This should also apply to every part of the country really. Transportation is an essential service, there should be sanity and order in its operations. Citizens on their part should be careful when selecting taxis or buses for their transportation. Whilst they may cost a little more, taxis and buses parked in regulated parks are safer than those picked on the ‘along’ the road. In situations where one has to go with vehicles already out on the road, it is always better to play safe. When it comes to your safety, better to be deemed paranoid than to end up a victim.

In the Greatness Olorunfemi story, the ultimate tragedy is the role allegedly played by Maitama General Hospital. According to most of the reports seen in the news and on social media, Greatness was rushed to the Maitama General Hospital after the robbery. She was reportedly unconscious by the time she was brought to the hospital. It was shocking to read that the hospital allegedly rejected her, insisting — according to reports — on a police report.

This is contrary to the law. The National Assembly passed the National Health Bill into law in 2014. Section 20 (i) and (ii) of the National Health Act states that, “a health care provider, health worker or health establishment shall not refuse a person emergency medical treatment for any reason. A person who contravenes this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N100,000.00 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both.”

There is the law and then there is the norm. Before the law referenced above, hospitals often insisted on a police report before taking up emergency treatments such as that of Greatness. The fear was on account of a possible misreading or misunderstanding of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act of 1990 which mandates that persons of health facilities that treat a patient suspected of having bullet wounds to immediately report to the police. In essence, even the old law didn’t expect that such victims should not be treated before a police report, but that a report be made to the police where such treatment to take place.

This is a testament to the need for us to not only pass laws but to educate the masses into understanding the essence and spirit of such laws, especially on matters such as this.

The Executive Vice-Chairman of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) Mr Babatunde Irukera already stated that the commission has opened an investigation into the actions or inactions of the aforementioned hospital. It is worthy of note that the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) have also taken the matter up. This tragedy is an opportunity for us to address a number of issues that require urgent attention. We need a crackdown on highway robbers in all their various forms. It is shocking to know that certain areas of our cities are prone to these crimes yet they continue to happen.

Tragedies are a global phenomenon, the difference really is in what you do after such tragedies. This is where Nigeria needs to shine and in the Greatness Olorunfemi story, we have an opportunity to do things right in the future. May her soul rest in peace.

Omojuwa is chief strategist, Alpha Reach/ author, Digital Wealth Book

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