The House of Representatives Thursday took steps to enforce treatment of armed attack aside gunshot injuries without a police clearance in order to save the victim from death.
This is as the House passed for second reading 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.
Leading debate on the general principles of the Bill, the sponsor Wale Raji (APC, Lagos) said the effect of the amendment will empower hospitals (both public and private) to treat victims of armed attack aside gunshots injuries without a police clearance and save the victim the agony of been rejected as is presently the case in Nigeria.
The lawmaker argued that: “Originally, the crux of the compulsory treatment and care for victims of gunshots Act, 2017 is to permit both public and private hospitals accept and provide immediate treatment for victims with gun/firearms injuries with or without a police clearance.
“However, due to the restricted coverage of this act, many innocent victims of other dangerous weapons other than firearms have consistently being rejected by the hospitals for want of a police clearance, which has led to their untimely death”.
He said with the amendment of the law which will 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.
Raji stated 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 intent of the extent 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 extent 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.
“Furthermore, there is no rationale for sending an injured victim, who is supposed to be receiving treatment in preservation of his live to the police station in order to obtain a police clearance. Also, 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.