Compulsory treatment for victims of gunshot act (2017): saving lives in Nigerian hospitals or a contradiction of the provisions of the administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015)?
Background: Gunshot wound and the problems associated with it has always been a global health phenomenon. Due to the sensitive nature of gunshot injuries in any clime, the treatment of victims is a pertinent and constant controversy among stakeholders particularly victims and their family, Governments, Medical Practitioners, Police, “Good Samaritans”, Legal Practitioners and relevant scholars. Prior to December 2017, victims of gunshot wounds could not be treated in Nigerian Hospitals without a police report which has led to the death of hundreds of thousands of victims in Nigeria. In 2017, the Nigerian President, Muhammudu Buhari signed the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshot Act (2017) into law and being a legislation enacted by the National Assembly, is binding on all States in the Federation.
Methodology: This Paper explores the provisions of this new Act and the responses of both the Public and Private hospitals in treating victims of gunshot wounds without a police report. Furthermore, the study interrogates whether the Act negates the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015), or it was enacted to protect the lives of gunshot wound victims thereby, ensuring the protection of the fundamental right to life. It is recommended that both the general hospitals and the private ones are to abide strictly by the provisions of the newly enacted Act so as not to commit any of the various offences specified in the Act.
Conclusion: It is concluded that on issues relating to care of gunshot and firearms victims in Nigerian, Medicine, Law and the Criminal Justice System must inter-relate in order to enforce the Provisions of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution that stipulates the protection of human lives.
Keywords: Gunshot wounds, Medical Personnel, Police, Law, Hospitals