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Bill to treat gunshot victims considered by Senate



Senate passes bill prescribing life imprisonment for kidnappers
Nigerian Senate

On Tuesday, a bill seeking to amend the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshots Act, 2017, was considered by the Senate.

Sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu, the bill seeks to establish the Medical Emergency Assistance Fund to cover the treatment of gunshot victims, knife wounds, and other life-threatening emergencies.

The lawmaker said that the intent behind the Compulsory Treatment and Care for the Victims of Gunshots Act, 2017, was to enforce treatment for victims of gunshots injury. Prior to its enactment, victims of gunshot injuries were being refused treatment by hospitals, as a result of a misinterpretation of Section 4 of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provision) Act 1990.

She explained that the Act provides that every hospital, public or private shall receive for treatment, with or without police clearance, with or without monetary deposit, persons with gunshot wounds, and criminalizes contravention and also provides a mechanism for reporting treatment of persons with gunshot wounds to police, and precludes persons from being the subject of embarrassing interrogation for helping victims.

“It is however shocking that in spite of the Act, the flagrant disregard of human life continues unabated, it is particularly sad that we continue to let brilliant and skilful minds go to waste, in what are apparently avoidable deaths”, she said.

“In a country where emergency response is almost non-existent, and getting victims to a 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.”

Senator Oluremi recalled the incident of David Ntekim-Rex, a 22-year old Systems Engineer who was attacked on his way home from work around Jibowu, Yaba in the Lagos Central Senatorial District on January 15, 2021, and was refused treatment in two hospitals before giving up the ghost.

Read also: Buhari Signs Into Law Bill To Allow Gunshot Victims To Be Treated Without Police Report

“This is not only barbaric and inhumane, but it is also a violation of Hippocratic oath which medical professionals swear to. The situation is further made worse by the fact that obtaining these police reports has been commercialized by some, thus ensuring that there is no quick and easy way to get it done”.

Contributing to the debate, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha said the bill will save lives and enable security forces obtain better intelligence to curb crimes while Senator Ibikunle Amosun stressed the sanctity of life and said criminals ought to be alive to receive their punishment and serve as a deterrent for others.

After scaling the second reading, the bill was referred to the Joint Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters; and Health (Secondary and Tertiary) by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege for legislative inputs.

The Joint Committee was given four weeks to report back to the Senate.

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