No, by Nigerian Law, a police report is no longer needed before a gunshot victim can be treated.
That is the simple and straightforward answer to the question posed by the heading of this write up. The law has since changed and presently, by law, no hospital is expected to refuse or delay the treatment of a gunshot wound victim on the ground that a police report should be gotten first.
In 2017 the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Gunshot Victims Act was enacted and this law is the game changer. Before the making of this law, it was the common practice that persons who had gunshot injuries were refused treatment by hospitals until a police report was gotten. This practice had many disadvantages though it was one carried out by the hospitals to save their own skin.
What did the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Gunshot Victims Act change and what are its key provisions?
Section 1 of the Act is to the effect that-
Every public or private Hospital in Nigeria is to immediately accept and adequately treat a person with a gunshot wound with or without a police clearance.
Interestingly too, Section 2(1) now places a responsibility on every citizen (and even Security personnel) to offer assistance to gunshot victims. To quell fears, such volunteers that assist a gunshot victim are offered protection from unnecessary and embarrassing interrogation by Section 8 of the Act.
Furthermore, Section 2 (2)(a) of the Act also provides to the effect that a person with gunshot wounds is to be immediately received and adequately treated at any hospital with or without initial monetary deposit. This clearly means that every hospital is mandatorily required to treat victims of gunshot wounds even when no initial monetary deposit is made for the treatment. In addition, the gunshot victim is not to be treated in a degrading, inhumane manner or tortured by the Police and other security agents – Section 2(2)(b) of the Act.
Despite the fact that by Section 1 of the Act, all hospitals are now mandatorily required to accept and adequately treat gunshot victims, the Act goes on further to place a responsibility on the hospital that has received and is treating a gunshot victim.
Consequently, by Section 3(1) of the Act, where a hospital receives a gunshot victim for treatment, the hospital is duty bound to make a report of this fact to the nearest police station within 2 Hours of commencing the treatment. Failure to make this report, is a crime and the Hospital if found guilty will be made to pay a fine of N100,000 and the Doctor involved risks jail term of six months or a fine of N100,000.
Section 11 is also very important, permit me to quote it;
Any Person or authority including any police officer, other security agent or hospital who stands by and fails to perform his duty under this Act which results in the unnecessary-death of any person with gunshot wounds commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N500,000.00 or imprisonment for a term of five years or both.
The combined effect of these sections can be summarized as follows-
- the law does not stop public or private hospitals from receiving and treating gunshot victims until a police report is gotten. Rather, the law now makes it mandatory for all hospitals (whether public to private) to treat gunshot victims even without a police report.
- Once a hospital receives a gunshot victim, it is to report the fact that it has received and is treating a gunshot victim to the nearest Police Station within two hours. Failure to do this is an offence.
- Failure to perform the duties stated in the Act which results in the death of a gunshot victim is an offence.
Hope this article has given you substantial information on the subject discussed. We will be glad to offer any further clarifications that may be needed.
Nkobowo Nkobowo BL
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