THE Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja, has 11 unclaimed corpses in its morgue, the management told The ICIR.
Among the bodies are 80-, 38- and 24-year-old men.
The hospital does not have the names and ages of seven of the deceased.
Among the corpses are seven males and two females.
Two of the bodies, Abubakar Iliyasu and Johnwood Emilia, have been at the facility’s mortuary for over a year.
They were brought in on July 2 and September 4, 2020, respectively.
The hospital provided details on the corpses on September 8, responding to The ICIR’s request made through the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
The ICIR made the request following increasing reports of attacks on Abuja residents, especially cab operators by criminals.
Security and road safety officials often move corpses that could not be immediately identified or claimed by their relations into nearby morgues.
Responding, the FMC prided itself as “one of the government agencies in Nigeria that key into the Freedom of Information Act.”
This newspaper made a similar request to the Asokoro, Wuse and Maitama district hospitals, including the National Hospital.
The facilities are either fully run by the government or through a public-private partnership.
They refused to respond to the request, in contravention of the FOI Act.
Rather than obey the law, the Wuse District Hospital, in its letter with reference number FCTA/HHSS/HMB/WDH/165/II and dated August 16, directed our newspaper to do a letter to the Health and Human Services Secretariat (of the Federal Capital Territory) ‘for approval’ of the request.
The hospitals’ refusal to honour the request contravenes Section 2 (4) and Section 4 (a and b) of the Act.
Section 7 (4 and 5) of the law, however, spells out punishment for contravention.
“Where the government or public institution fails to give access to information or record applied for under this Act or part thereof within the time limit set out in this Act, the institution shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to have refused to give access.
“Where a case of wrongful denial of access is established, the defaulting officer or institution commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N500,000.”
Section 9 (2) of the FOI mandates every government or public institution to ensure the proper organisation and maintenance of all information or record in its custody in a manner that facilitates public access to such information or record.
Meanwhile, hospitals in Nigeria often spend taxpayers money on announcements, urging deceased relations to claim bodies in their custody to avoid mass burial.
The Ladoke Akintola University Teaching Hospital, Osogbo, Osun State, threatened in May 2020 to give unclaimed corpses in its morgue a mass burial if their relations failed to claim them within two weeks.
“The management of Lautech teaching hospital Osogbo hereby call on the members of the public, especially those who have corpses in the mortuary unit of the hospital, to come and remove them within the next two weeks of this announcement.
“This is to ensure that the congestion of hospital morgue which is now filled to the brim with no room for the fresh bodies,” part of the hospital’s announcement said.
The Ondo State Government made a similar announcement in May 2020, but it gave the deceased relations one month to claim the bodies.
About the FMC
Former President Goodluck Jonathan commissioned the FMC Abuja in January 2013.
The Federal Government initially operated the facility as a federal staff hospital before upgrading it to a federal medical centre.