Abuja ‘one chance’ victim: What does the law say about police report?

THE Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) and the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) have commenced investigations into the death of Greatness Olorunfemi, attacked by a ‘one chance’ gang in Abuja.

Executive Vice-Chairman of the FCCPC Babatunde Irukera disclosed this in a statement on Saturday, September 30.

“The Commission commiserates with Ms Greatness Olorunfemi’s family, friends and associates who are affected by this tragic loss. The Commission has opened an investigation accordingly,” the statement read.

Irukera noted that the Office of the Mandate Secretary for Health Services and Environment for the FCT also announced a Coroner’s inquiry into Olorunfemi’s death.

“Of particular concern is if Ms Greatness Olorunfemi died on account of failures implicated in the Commission’s Patients’ Bill of Rights (PBOR) or other enforceable legal instruments regarding attention and care to patients generally, and more specifically, in emergency situations where victims of criminal conduct require medical attention,” the statement read.

A separate statement issued on Saturday by the Office of the Mandate Secretary for Health Services and Environment occupied by Dolapo Fasawe disclosed that the inquest would follow an autopsy, both of which have become necessary due to the circumstances surrounding Olorunfemi’s death.

Olorunfemi’s death, Maitama hospital accused of negligence

A video went viral on Wednesday, September 27, showing a lady, later identified as Greatness Olorunfemi, by the roadside along the Maitama-Kubwa expressway after being pushed out of a vehicle by a suspected criminal gang disguised as commercial drivers.

“This lady was just pushed down from a vehicle between Maitama-Kubwa express, the road going towards Wuse, Berger. She was pushed by all this one chance. Please, let’s be careful, she was pushed down from a one-chance vehicle,” an unidentified eyewitness narrated in the video.

According to an audio tape from the eye witness that also went viral, passersby had taken Olorunfemi to the Maitama District Hospital in Abuja for treatment but were denied treatment by the hospital staff.

“All of us, about 15 vehicles, we all drove down there, and then she was still alive. The Maitama General Hospital refused to receive her and said they wanted a police report before they could attend to her,” the eyewitness narrated.

He stated that the hospital staff were informed of an extant law that criminalises the demand of a police report before treatment is provided for patients with gunshot or stab wounds. However, despite efforts to reason with the staff, Olorunfemi was denied treatment until she bled to death.

A social media user on X, with username @Nwaadaz, who claimed to be friends with the deceased, also posted a video of the victim with a caption accusing hospital staff of neglect.

“Maitama General Hospital refused to attend to my friend who was stabbed by a one-chance driver in Abuja. They allowed her to bleed to death and locked the emergency ward against her because she didn’t have a police report!! Nigeria has failed Greatness!!” she tweeted.

However, there are reports that the patient was brought in dead, which has resulted in the need for investigations.

What does the law say?

Many Nigerians have died due to the refusal of health facilities to provide treatment to patients with gunshot or stab wounds without a police report.

This is usually based on a misconception of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act of 1990, which mandates any person or health facility that treats a patient suspected of having bullet wounds to report immediately to the police.

According to Section 4(2) of the Act, “it shall be the duty of any person, hospital or clinic that admits, treats or administers any drug to any person suspected of having bullet wounds to immediately report the matter to the police.”

While the section seems to demand a report from health care providers even if treatment is given, many patients have been required to provide clearance from the police even before treatment.

In December 2014, Nigeria passed the National Health Bill into law, which described denying patients medical attention as an offence.

Section 20 (1) and (2) 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.”

This, however, did not stop the acts of requesting police reports, as in 2021, Oluremi Tinubu, who was a senator then, reacting to the practice said, “In a country where emergency response is almost non-existent, and getting victims to the hospital is already burdensome, it is sad that where the victims make it to a hospital alive, they are still denied treatment and left to die.”

Interestingly, the Lagos state police spokesman Benjamin Hundeyin had earlier stated that men of the police force were repeatedly turned away by several public health institutions when they wanted to access emergency care for an accident victim.

Hundeyin, in a post on X, said, “Officers on early morning patrol found a man critically injured as he had just been involved in a lone motorcycle accident. The police officers quickly took him to the nearest hospital. The hospital rejected him. They rushed to another hospital, again rejected”.

He noted that five hospitals rejected the patient.

Although allegations of negligence by the Maitama District Hospital are still under investigation, many Nigerians are outraged by Olurunfemi’s death.

The ICIR reports that the one-chance menace has increasingly worsened insecurity in Nigeria, especially in major cities where they operate as large syndicates.

One chance menace worsens insecurity in Nigeria

One chance is a criminal group disguised as commercial drivers and commuters. They usually move around cabs in groups of two, three or four, armed with weapons such as guns, knives, hammers and other harmful objects.

They dispossess passengers of their belongings, including laptops, money, phones and other valuables. Many of them conduct their illicit business, using Point of Sale machines to empty victims’ bank accounts, using force.






     

     

    These criminals often leave the front seat of their vehicles or one or two seats at the back for unsuspecting victims.

    The group’s mode of operation comes in different forms. They could drive victims into the bush or to a section of highways with few vehicles and carry out their heinous acts.

    The ICIR reported how the FCTA vowed to crack down on the group, but the city continues to witness the criminals’ attacks on residents.

    Many Nigerians believe that a poor transportation system, aggravated by high transport costs occasioned by fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government, aids the group’s operations.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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