A young man said to be a senior engineer with Ericsson Nigeria, Adebayo Akinwumi, was recently shot and wounded by armed robbers who attacked him in his house in Orinmerunmu, Ofada-Mokoloki area of Ogun State in the wee hours of the fateful day. After dispossessing him of some valuables including laptops, phones, Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards, one of the robbers reportedly shot Adebayo in the rib without provocation. The victim was reportedly taken to three different hospitals but none attended to him. A private medical facility in the community rejected him, perhaps because it lacked the capacity to handle that magnitude of emergency. A popular hospital in Ikeja, Lagos State, which reportedly has a retainership with the employers of the victim, allegedly refused to treat him due to the lack of a police report. And at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, the staff were on strike. The victim was confirmed dead by the time a doctor came to check up on him after much prodding by his wife and a relative.
Apparently, Akinwumi died of gunshot wounds because he was not availed of the medical attention which he desperately needed. It is most unfortunate. The death of the young man, though very painful, is symptomatic of a dysfunctional system that needs surgical operation. It is sad that the life of an innocent, brilliant and hard-working man was cut short in its prime by his fellow young men who have chosen the path of evil for sundry but ignoble reasons, a few of which may have been system-induced. It is really unsettling that while living is very expensive, life is becoming rather cheap and almost worthless in the land. The sanctity of human life means nothing to many who rob, maim and kill innocent persons without blinking.
The society seems to be breeding, at an alarming rate, outlaws with a huge propensity to engage in violence and other strands of illegality, perhaps because they believe they have nothing to live for. The bitter truth is that the prevailing challenge is obviously much deeper than the snippets of atrocities that cause the citizenry to worry time and again. Or what could be the explanation for the armed bandits’ action in shooting and fatally wounding the victim who did not resist being stripped of his valuables in his own house? It only reflects the abysmal level that humanity has sunk among some cruel and conscienceless persons in the country.
The seemingly uninformed and patently uncivilised men of the underworld have done their worst because they are totally bereft of values, including moral restraints that impel citizens to stay within the precincts of decency and decorum. But are the supposedly educated persons who run the affected hospitals depraved too? Are the staff of the hospitals which allegedly rejected the victim so lacking in human compassion that they could not even attempt to stabilise the victim before demanding for an unwarranted police report? And are the managements of the hospitals ignorant of the ‘Compulsory Treatment and Care of Victims of Gunshot Act, 2017’? The Act, which makes it unlawful and inexcusable to deny medical treatment to victims of gunshot wounds on the grounds of the lack of a police report, prescribes a five-year jail term for its violation. That is the extant law.
The only duty that the law imposes on the hospital treating such patients is to report the fact to the nearest police station within two hours of the commencement of treatment. Therefore, the alleged rejection of the victim who was even on the staff of a company that has a relationship with the said hospital smacks of insensitivity and cruelty. If the issue was ignorance on the part of the hospital, it was of the culpable and criminal hue that cannot explain away the death of the promising young man. In any case, ignorance of the law constitutes no excuse for any infraction. The law must take its course and the erring hospital should be prosecuted. The seemingly willful ignorance of the hospital which resulted in Akinwumi’s demise should be punished to serve as a deterrent.
It is, nonetheless, comforting that the Lagos State Police Command has issued a press release warning that doctors who reject gunshot victims are criminally liable. At least, that would serve as a caution to hospitals and medical practitioners who may find it convenient to choose to be ignorant. The Ogun State Police Command too should apprehend the armed robbers that attacked the victim and bring them to book. Also, the police should investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Citizen Akinwumi after sustaining bullet injuries from the hoodlums. Whoever is found to have broken the law should be sanctioned accordingly. It is high time all Nigerians were made to begin to value human lives once more.