The Independent Investigative Panel on allegations of human rights violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other units of the Nigerian police on Monday ruled that the presence of Garki General Hospital, Abuja at the panel is important to determine the circumstance of the death of Linda Igwetu who was allegedly shot by Inspector Benjamin Peters in Abuja in 2018.
Chairman of the 11-Member panel, Justice Suleiman Galadima delivered this ruling after an objection by counsel to Garki General Hospital, Nekabari Annah Esq. that the hospital has been portrayed in a bad light by many media outfits over the same petition before the panel, which according to him was heard and dispensed with, by other panels in the country.
Before the ruling, Annah had submitted that Garki General Hospital should not be subjected to difficulties of facing multiple jeopardies over the same matter which he noted was instituted before several panels, including the National Human Rights Commission which set up the current panel.
He also said that the matter was earlier filed before Senate Committee on Sports and Youth Development, Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria etc, which he said exonerated Garki General Hospital from any blame.
Despite the above claims by Annah, the panel clarified that it has a duty to investigate and unravel the truth in all the complaints before it and that in doing so individual or institutions that will assist it to achieve the said goal will be summoned accordingly.
Earlier in his testimonies before the panel, the Chief Medical Director of Garki Hospital, Dr. Adamu Onu upon being led in his evidence before the panel by counsel to Garki General Hospital, Nekabari said that late Linda was never denied access to treatment by any official of the hospital and that she was given the necessary medical attention including infusions as required by her health condition.
The Medical Practitioner stated that it has been a standing policy for the hospital not to demand deposit before admitting patients to its accident and emergency department and that the victim’s case before the panel could not have been an exception.
Besides, Dr. Onu said the second leg of the allegations against his hospital is that late Linda Igwetu’s sister, Chinenye Igwetu was told by the hospital to go and purchase blood elsewhere because the hospital does not allow women to donate blood.
According to him, the allegation is a hundred per cent untrue because a DPO under whose jurisdiction the incident happened confirmed that she was the one who asked the deceased sister to look for blood outside the hospital and not the hospital staff.
Similarly, representative of the Registrar of Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, Dr. Enejo Abdul (Assistant Registrar) stated that his institution was yet to see the petition before the honourable panel.
According to him, Medical and Dental Counsel of Nigeria does not investigate hospital but medical practitioners.
In their response, the police through their led counsel, James Idachaba informed the panel that Benjamin Peters who allegedly shot Linda has been dismissed and is also facing prosecution by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
He also disclosed that he has not been granted bail and therefore has remained in prison while facing trial in court.
Meanwhile, the panel’s legal team on Monday comprising Halilu Adamu and Afolabi Olawale told the panel that the presence of the Registrar of Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria is necessary because they have oversight responsibilities to hospitals and the medical officers.
The panel gave the complainants one week to file and serve their written addresses to the respondents, who in turn were given another one week upon receipt of such addresses to file and serve theirs on other parties.
The matter was adjourned till April 8, 2021 for adoption of addresses.