Medical Council can’t investigate death of Lagos celebrity chef without petition – Registrar

THE Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) Tuesday said it had not received any petition that could make it to investigate the death of popular Lagos pastry chef Peju Ugboma.

 Ugboma’s family had last week attributed her death to “gross negligence” by Premier Specialist Medical Centre, a facility at Victoria Island Lagos, where she had an unsuccessful fibroid surgery on April 22, after the family claimed to have spent N3million.

Her death resulted in online protest across Nigeria, with many people calling on relevant authorities, including Lagos State Government, to probe the hospital.

MDCN Registrar Tajudeen Sanusi told The ICIR that the Council could only investigate the incident after it had received a formal complaint from the public.

Among others, MDCN sets standards for medical practice in Nigeria, including investigating and sanctioning erring practitioners.

The Council had in November 2020 suspended Adepoju Anuoluwapo, a Lagos-based doctor, from medical practice after she performed cosmetic surgery on a client who later died as the procedure failed.

MDCN Registrar, Tajudeen Sanusi. Source: MDCN’s website

The Council had also in April this year punished two medical doctors, Dr. Sullyman Kokori, of Garkuwa Specialist hospital, Kaduna, and Dr. Adolphus Oriaifo of Ajayi Oriaifo memorial hospital, Benin, Edo State, for professional misconduct.

Kokori was reportedly suspended for 12 months, while Oriaifo was handed six months suspension after they were found guilty of professional negligence in the cause of their professional engagements.

Ugboma’s family alleged that the unprofessional conducts of doctors at Premier Hospital during the surgery they carried out on the late chef led to complications resulting in her death.

In a statement signed by Nwabeze Ugboma, younger brother to the deceased husband, the family said it paid two million naira to the hospital before making additional one million naira payment to Evercare Hospital, (another facility at Lekki Phase One, Lagos) where the chef was referred before she eventually died on April 25.

After studying the MDCN Act CAP M8 2004, our reporter contacted former president of Nigerian Medical Association, Omede Idris who confirmed that the Council only acts after it had officially been notified of such incident.

If there are alleged professional misconducts, the registrar had said the normal thing is for someone to complain to the MDCN and the Council’s disciplinary organs, the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Investigative Panel and Medical and Dental Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal would investigate the professional misconduct.

“If prima facie evidence is established, the matter is transferred to the tribunal. If not, the matter ends there. In the absence of any complaint, there is nothing MDCN can do. That is the basic truth. All these people shouting on social media; that is not the issue, the issue is for somebody to complain properly to Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. That is when we can investigate. We don’t just pick up any information.”

Screenshot of Twitter page of Lagos State Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency, where it vowed to probe Ugboma’s death

Meanwhile, Lagos state government had vowed to launch investigation into the death after an online petition calling on the state government to probe the incident surfaced last weekend.

Similarly, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has begun a probe into the incident after news of Ugboma’s death went viral online.

 Hospitals fail to response to enquiries by The ICIR

The ICIR called both hospitals on Friday morning for comment, but they did not respond, despite the assurance of the customer care desks that the management would call back.

Evercare Hospital later demanded a formal letter from this newspaper, promising to respond within hours.  The letter was sent Tuesday morning and was followed with a reminder. Yet, the hospital didn’t honour the request.

Allegation by deceased family

A copy of the family’s statement obtained by The ICIR said Mrs Ugboma died after her husband had paid three million naira for her operation for fibroid.

She was transferred to Evercare Hospital, Lekki Phase 1, three days after suffering complications from the surgery; and she allegedly died moments after reaching the hospital on April 25.

The family said independent autopsy conducted on Ugboma at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital showed the surgery left multiple cuts in her organs, leading to bleeding.

Late Peju Ugboma. Source: The Guardian Newspaper

They added that two litres of blood was discovered in the deceased abdomen and pelvic area.

Her death could have been prevented had the hospital heeded an advice by a doctor-friend to the Ugbomas, based in the UK, the family claimed.

The doctor, a gynaecologist, had suspected the haemorrhage and advised that the hospital return the deceased into theatre for re-examination.

But, the Ugbomas said the hospital ignored the counsel.

The family further accused Premier Hospital of denying independent pathologists of access to the deceased full medical report, adding that the hospital only released the report after it almost engaged in physical confrontation with the hospital’s staff.

Also, medical reports sent to the independent pathologists might have been tampered with.

“It is clear that Peju bled internally from Friday after the surgery till Sunday when she died, and it is shocking to note that Premier Hospital was negligent enough not to pick this up and save her life. Peju’s tragic and unfortunate death has left behind two heartbroken little girls, a grieving husband, an aged mother and loved ones,” the family said.

Late Ugboma walked into hospital unaided, says family

Narrating the events leading to Ugboma death, the family explained that she walked into the hospital unaided on Thursday April 22 on the advice of the hospital that she goes for the operation.

“She walked into the hospital by herself unaided, as it was by no means an emergency surgical procedure. She had concluded all the necessary tests required before the surgery, including ECG, PCV, and COVID -19 tests. Her vitals were okay and she had no pre-existing conditions prior to surgery.

Nigeria’s Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire

“All payments were made for the preliminary tests. The hospital demanded their account be funded to the tune of N1.5 million and the family deposited N1 million immediately. The surgery was carried out on the morning of Friday 23rd April 2021, by Drs. Akinsiku, Iwuh, Asemota, Renner, and some other medical personnel,” the family said.

Shortly after the operation, the deceased allegedly became uncomfortable, as her blood pressure dropped to the range of 50/30.

“Early on Saturday morning, she told her husband that the veins on her hands had collapsed and the hospital wanted to give her fluids on a vein close to her neck and collarbone. She also mentioned that the doctors said her kidneys were not functioning optimally, and a consultant nephrologist had been called in to come in that Saturday morning. This was a shock to them both, as all tests prior to surgery were fine. The consultant eventually came in as scheduled but dismissed both their concerns.”

The family further alleged that by Saturday evening, Ugboma been given three pints of blood, while none of the gynaecologists who performed the surgery attended to her throughout that day, despite all her pain and concerns expressed by her husband.

As her situation allegedly deteriorated, one of the doctors at the hospital advised that she be taken to the intensive care unit (ICU) of the hospital. Her husband was asked to pay another one million naira, which he allegedly paid immediately.

“As this was going on, Peju kept complaining of severe pains, and her eyes had turned yellowish. At about midnight that Saturday, she was sedated intravenously.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu Governor of Lagos State PHOTO: Vanguard

“By 6.30 am on Sunday, her husband was surprised to find out that his wife had been placed on a respirator. Dr Renner told him that her condition had deteriorated through the night. Her husband saw that she looked pale, and her eyes had been taped as if to keep them closed, but she was still breathing and the monitors were still reading.”

In attempt to save her life, late Ugboma was moved to Evercare Hospital, Lekki Phase 1 by Premier Hospital, but it took three hours to get her there, the family further claimed.

The hospital medical team received her and she was moved to the ICU, while her husband was asked to pay yet another one million naira. He promptly did, said the family.

But, all efforts to save her failed as she succumbed to deaths shortly after the payment was made.

Hospital will be charged to court – Family

Speaking with our reporter on Monday, Nwabeze Ugboma said the family would charge Premier Hospital to court.

He said charging the hospital to court would make other hospitals with a similar attitude have a rethink.

Ugboma said the hospitals are expected to offer the best services and value every life that needs care.

He expressed shock that Premier Hospital could behave the way it did despite being paid huge amount of money for his in-law’s surgery.

He however said his family was happy with the attention being given to the case by the Federal Government, Lagos State government, civil society organisations and the general public.

Premium Specialist Medical Centre

When contacted on Tuesday,  Director of Hospital Services Federal Ministry of Health Adebimpe Adebiyi referred our reporter to the Lagos State Ministry of Health.

However, public relations officer, Lagos State Police Command, Muyiwa Adejobi said he was unaware of the incident. He promised to find out.

“I will find out, but I doubt it because it’s new to me,” Adejobi said in response to a text message sent to him by The ICIR.

About the deceased

Information about the deceased seen on multiple platforms said she graduated with a BSc in Microbiology from the University of Lagos.

Prior to setting up her “I Luv Desserts”, which she managed in Lagos until her death, she had worked as the Head of Business Strategy at First Independent Global Nigeria for three years.



    The Pasta Chef, one of the platforms that provided the information, said in order to advance herself in the dessert industry, she got certification from Gastronimicum, Agde (2007), South of France, Le Notre-(2009), Paris France and The Taste Lab, United Kingdom.(2017).

    Since the establishment of I Luv Desserts in 2007, the business won many awards and accolades, including the Wed Awards 2013, Desserts Company of the Year and the Patissier of the year, and Christmas in January Awards 2012. The business was also nominated for Desserts & Sweet Treats company of 2018 and 2019 by the Association of Professional Party Planners and Event Managers of Nigeria (APPOEMN). She was named as one of the 100 women who made impact in 2019 by Guardian Nigeria.

    In 2017, she pioneered her range of indigenously produced frozen cookie dough -The ILD Frozen cookie dough range. It was the first in West Africa.

    In her spare time, Ugboma, an ardent Manchester United fan, loved soccer game and movie. She also loved reading or exploring a new city. She dreamt of launching an online desserts training school for aspiring chefs, baking enthusiasts and home cooks someday.

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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