THE Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has joined the Private Health Establishments Registration and Monitoring Committee (PHERMC) to probe the illegal Lilu Specialist Hospital run by a North Korean, Jongsu Kim, in Abuja.
Chairman of the Abuja chapter of the NMA, Charles Ugwuanyi, disclosed this on Wednesday during a radio show which appraised an investigation carried out by The ICIR, which exposed the illegal hospital.
The show, an anti-corruption radio programme titled ‘Public Conscience’, is a weekly anti-corruption programme produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG). The MacArthur Foundation supports the programme.
The ICIR published its report exposing the hospital on January 31.
In the report, the organisation detailed how the high and mighty in the country, including Presidency officials and senior advocates, patronised the facility.
PHERMC confirmed in the report the hospital was not registered. The report also shows that the Lilu Specialist Hospital is not in the Health Facility Registry, warehousing all health facilities in Nigeria.
The hospital has no signpost and does not pay tax to the government.
As of September 2022, when the ICIR did the larger part of the investigation, Kim was receiving payment of bills by patients into his private bank account rather than the hospital’s. The facility treated each patient for between N150,000 and N500,000 and had attended to many patients.
During the investigation, The ICIR contacted Bartholomew Chigozie Awugozi, one of the hospital’s three directors, as information obtained from the Corporation Affairs Commission (CAC) showed. Awugozi is based in Awka, Anambra State, where he manages his hotel.
His reaction gave the investigation a new twist. He claimed he was the hospital’s legal owner.
The businessman was shocked that the hospital he opened in Port-Harcourt some years ago and had shut down because it was not yielding returns was running in Abuja by people he claimed not to know.
When contacted, the hospital’s lawyer, Matthias Adeyemi, said the investigation was needless. He countered The ICIR findings.
When contacted again after Awugozi claimed he owned the hospital and had run it in Port Harcourt, Adeyemi agreed that ‘some’ of the findings were true.
Speaking on Wednesday’s radio show, the NMA chairman in the FCT said: “There is an issue of immigration (involving Kim and others working in the hospital). I am happy that the Nigerian Immigration Service has already been alerted. What is the immigration status of the principal actors in this whole saga?
“We need an answer from the Nigerian Immigration Service. How did they enter Nigeria? How many are they operating in that facility?
“The Nigerian law is very solid in terms of regulating who should practise medicine in Nigeria. That responsibility has been vested on the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council. We also need input from the registry of the MDCN on the actors at the facility. Are they registered with the MDCN because it is an absolute impossibility for any doctor to practise in Nigeria and is not under one form of registration or practising license or the other from the MDCN?”
Ugwuanyi said from the information his group gathered, there was no proof that doctors working in the facility were registered or licensed by the MDCN.
According to him, unless anyone provides counter-evidence, the hospital’s operators are not supposed to practise medicine in Nigeria.
Similarly, the Chairman of the Hospital Inspection, Medical Outreach and Anti-quackery Committee of the NMA-FCT, Whera Sagay, a doctor, vowed to ensure persons behind the facility are exposed and made to face the law.
She warned anyone contemplating running an illegal health facility in the FCT and those doing it to desist to avoid accompanying penalties.
“Quackery is what the NMA takes seriously,” she stated as she pledged that the NMA would work with relevant authorities to ensure medical practice standardisation.
Meanwhile, The ICIR gathered from an impeccable source that the Federal Ministry of Health has handed over the investigation to the Health Secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory. The official said the government was working hard to unravel the mystery behind the hospital’s existence and bring persons behind it to book.