Alleged Medical Negligence: Again, trial of doctors, others stalled

National Hospital
National Hospital, Abuja

The protracted trial of medical officials accused of negligently causing the death of a woman and several babies was again adjourned on Thursday, for various reasons.

The application, instituted in 2016, is yet to witness its first hearing over two years after it was initiated by an Abuja based law firm, Abalaka and Co.

After several adjournments, the case was slated for hearing on Thursday, following the decision of the court, presided by a judge, Binta Nyako, to prioritise another matter involving multiple witnesses, in October.

When PREMIUM TIMES arrived the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, venue of the matter on Thursday, several lawyers were seen picking future dates for continuation of their cases.

A court clerk provided details of lawyers who appeared for the day’s proceedings, which showed that the plaintiff was not represented in court for their own application.

“The record of the day’s cases, as well as the lawyers and next date of adjustment is inside that course list,” the clerk said, pointing at a document prepared for the day’s proceedings.

Following that observation, PREMIUM TIMES made repeated attempts to contact the applicant’s principal partner, Charles Abalaka, without success.

Mr Abalaka’s phone line could not be reached by this reporter.

Another lawyer from the chamber, Richard Aneke, however alleged that an applicant’s counsel had appeared in court for the matter.

“No, someone was supposed to be there. I am sure he came,” Mr Aneke told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview.

The civil application was initiated on behalf Portia Sambo, the mother of late Sandra David, one of the deceased victims. The applicants demand a compensation of N500 million from the Federal Medical Centre, Abuja over alleged ineptitude by its officials in the hospital’s treatment of the late victim, after she approached the medical centre for correction of a complication in her gallbladder.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how a sister of the deceased, Sophia, accused the hospital of causing the late Miss David’s condition to deteriorate beyond measures.

“We all expected the treatment and recuperation to take a short period and that she would return to work very quickly,” recalled Sophia, late Ms David’s sister.

“But days ran into weeks and she was still at the hospital. Rather than tell us the truth about her situation, they waited and waited for my sister to die,” said Sophia, in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES.

Yet, two years after, neither the courts of law, nor the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council – the regulatory body for the affected defendants – have issued a definite statement on the matter.

While the application in court has not witnessed a proper hearing, the investigation, which begun since 2016 by the council, has been adversely affected by the absence of a governing board responsible for the discipline of medical practitioners and adjudication of cases related to alleged negligence or ineptitude by its members.

The board was only inaugurated in November, three years after the previous board was dissolved by the Nigerian government.

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