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Foundation urges states to domesticate law on treatment of gunshot patients

The Crime Victims Foundation of Nigeria (CRIVIFON) has urged all states in the Federation to domesticate  the  Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshots Act to enable medical personnel treat victims of gunshot wounds without reporting to law enforcement agencies.

The foundation also pleaded with security agencies not to harass doctors who save the lives of gunshot wounds victims before reporting the incident.

It said hospitals sometimes develop cold feet about receiving gunshot patients because of the often cumbersome nature of police statement-taking and investigative procedures.

CRIVIFON founder, Gloria Egbuji, observed that medical personnel are often left feeling like they did wrong or that they are treated like suspects and made to make repeated visits to police stations because they decided to save a life.

Egbuji, an activist lawyer, urged law enforcement agencies to develop better, more convenient and faster ways of taking statements from medical personnel, rather than subjecting them to “endless statements”.

Already, Lagos and Rivers States have domesticated the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshots Act.

The lawyer asked states to adopt the law which provides, among others, for victims of accidents and gunshots to get treatment before police report.

Egbuji lamented that despite the passage of the Act in 2017 and the presidential assent in January 2018, the other states are yet to domesticate same. She noted that due to the non-cooperation of some hospitals, lives have been lost.

Egbuji said: “Since 1998, the organisation has been leading the cause of gunshots and accidents victims by urging medical staff in private and public hospitals to admit the victims for treatment before asking them to produce a police report.

“It is now an offence for medical facilities to deny any gunshot or accident victim the right to be treated before being subjected to the submission of a police report.

“It is also an offence for the police to arrest or harass medical staff for treating a gunshot or accident victim who does not have a police report at the time of admission.”

She added that although there is already a law on the treatment of gunshot and accident victims before police reports, some hospitals have continued to demand police reports, thereby putting lives at risk.

“In the last 18 months, Nigeria has lost some of her citizens through the careless refusal of the hospitals to accept the victims for treatment,” she added.

“Among the recent victims of gunshot who died as a result of the refusal of hospitals to treat them without a police report, even after the enactment of the Gunshot Victims Act, was a gospel music producer cum final year Higher National Diploma (HND) student at Ibadan Polytechnic popularly known as Ebenezer Ayeni.

“He was shot on Thursday, June 10, 2021, at his Ibadan, Oyo state residence by armed robbers a few days before his wedding.

“He was said to have been rushed to the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan and later a private hospital but was reportedly rejected by hospital staff, who demanded a police report before they could treat his gunshot injury. He died hours later in a pool of his blood.”

Egbuji, therefore, urged state governments to domesticate the law, and provide funds for indigent victims to get quick treatment.

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