Two years after Nigerian hospital accused of negligence, court hearing yet to commence

Two years after a case of alleged medical negligence was brought against a Nigerian hospital, the matter is yet to witness its first hearing by an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.

After several adjournments, the case, involving an aged mother, Portia Sambo and the Federal Medical Centre Abuja, among other defendants, was again postponed on Wednesday because “the court was too busy.”

“The reason for today’s adjournment is because the court plans to entertain a matter involving the SSS. According to the registrar, the court plans to listen to a lot of witnesses presented by parties in the SSS case and as such, it cannot attend to any other matter for the day. Our matter was supposed to be for hearing today,” said Richard Aneke a lawyer representing Mrs Sambo while speaking with PREMIUM TIMES, after informing our reporter about the adjournment of the case on Wednesday.

Clad in a yellow-laced native attire, Mrs Sambo stood, apparently frustrated about the entire situation.

“I arrived Abuja today, from Lagos. I was told about the matter just yesterday and they said I needed to testify,” Mrs Sambo said, sadly before approaching an empty sit outside the courtroom to occupy it.

According to Mr Aneke, the case has been adjourned till November 15.

Mr Aneke informed PREMIUM TIMES about a request by a counsel to the medical and dental council for the motion to be amended, following the death of one of the doctors.

“The hospital brought an application today asking us to amend our motion because one of the accused doctors has died. That is doctor Amadi,” said Mr Aneke. “But we plan to oppose that motion,” he added.

Mrs Sambo approached the court in September, 2016 two months after the death of her then 29 years old daughter, Sandra David, following alleged medical negligence by doctors working with the federal Medical Centre, Abuja.

The events, resulting in the death of Ms David, was reported by PREMIUM TIMES in December, 2016.

After several attempts to get updates on the allegation from the regulatory body for medical doctors, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria; the council said in a June, 2017 letter that investigations into the alleged medical negligence was ongoing and that results would be released soon.

The letter was signed by the secretary to the council’s investigation panel, Enejor Abdu, a medical doctor.

Six months later, however, when the PREMIUM TIMES approached the council again in December, 2017, its acting registrar, Tajudeen Sanusi, described the outcome of the investigation as a “private matter.”

“Number one, you are a journalist. We don’t discuss the issue of the investigative panel, because it is a private sitting. Nobody is in charge. All they do is to carry out investigation into an alleged professional misconduct of any registered practitioner.

“It is only when a prima facie (based on the first impression; accepted as correct until proved otherwise) case is established and the matter is transferred to a tribunal, then it becomes a public matter. I won’t say whether investigation is still on, or not. But, when it is concluded, parties involved will be notified,” Mr Sanusi said in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES.

When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr Abdu on Monday to find out if the investigation has been concluded, as suggested by Mr Sanusi, the panel secretary asked that a text message be sent, containing the required information.

Hours after our reporter sent him the text message, however, Mr Abdu did not respond to the request by this reporter.


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