The recent move at the Senate by Senator Oluremi Tinubu sponsoring a Bill seeking to amend the 2017 Gunshot Act otherwise known as Compulsory Treatment And Care for Victims of Gunshots Act 2017 in other to make provision for the establishment of Medical Emergency Assistance for victims, is undoubtedly a laudable move.
That Oluremi Tinubu could painstakingly discover the lacuna in the 2017 Act with respect to financial aspect of protection for victims of Gunshots and related incidents covered by the Act is certainly a testimony that some lawmakers could be relied upon as true representatives of the masses. This is why some messages of appreciation have come the way of the Lagos Senator and by extension to the entire Senate.
It is however, embarrassing that in spite of the fact that the Gunshot Act has been in existence for the past four years, certain inconsistencies or breaches are still manifest to the extent that some people who ought to be stakeholders seem to be absolutely ignorant of the Act and its provision.
The gory tale of Mr. Ola Ayeni on how his younger brother Ebenezer Ayeni was left to die by medical personnel of three different hospitals in Ibadan, Oyo State in April, 2021 following gunshot injuries he sustained when armed robbers attacked their residence is a pointer to the irresponsibility on the horizon.
Another similar incident involving a young accountant had occurred in FESTAC area of Lagos earlier this year. He was shot by armed robbers early in the morning on his way to work and despite efforts by good hearted Nigerians who took him to different hospitals, medical personnel on duty reportedly rejected him for not providing police report. It was the same issue of non availability of police report that made the hospitals to refuse treating Ebenezer Ayeni.
It is highly embarrassing that at this age and time, medical personnel prominent among whom are medical doctors who subscribed to the Hippocratic Oath in medical schools would now connive to deny gunshot victims access to prompt and adequate medical attention.
The situation is further worsened by the recent statement credited to the President of the Nigerian Medical Association who on a recent Television programme blamed the police for insisting that gunshot victims brought to the hospital must come with police report.
Over the years, the controversy had drawn public attention to the effect that police high command has had reasons to emphatically delay that no police report is needed before a gunshot victim is taken in for treatment.
From the recent scenarios, it is becoming quite evident that there is a missing link as hospitals could not on their own exhibit the audacity as reported in the case of Ebenezer Ayeni. The various hospitals visited and which eventually rejected to admit him due to non submission of police report, had possibly acted the way they did based on the fact police were pushing for the report.
This missing link is becoming quite difficult to discover as police high command does not seem to be mindful of this breach of extant Law by its personnel.
With the current spate of gunshot, road accident and other similar incidents that leave victims in pool of their own blood and the attendant effort to save their lives by good Nigerians, we dare to demand that the Inspector General of Police should evolve a system of working out modalities with the Nigerian Medical Association on how best police and medical personnel in both public and private hospitals can work harmoniously without breaching provisions of the Gunshot Act.
The hospitals should have the confidence of treating gunshot and other victims without being victimized for non submission of police report as at the time a victim is admitted.
Police should be able to create the awareness that Gunshots Act does not require immediate submission of police report and be willing to punish any of its personnel who violates the Act.