NIGERIA: Ebonyi doctors threaten fire over colleague brutalised by Police officer

Entrance of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, FETHA

When Sani Tella, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP, attached to the Ebonyi State Police Command, gave free rein to his anger by beating up Dr. Okafor Chukwujiekwu of the Obstetrics and Gynaecologist Department of the  Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, FETHA, he probably did not bargain for the storm his action would engender.

The police officer who was said to have brutalised the medical doctor for daring to talk to his wife, a patient who came to the hospital for treatment, narrowly death when angry members of the university community descended on him.

In fact, Wednesday February 13, 2013 is a day ASP Tella would rather want to forget in a hurry as he is said to be presently ruing his misguided resort to violence to enforce a tradition that is only obtainable in the Northern part of the country.

Vanguard Metro was told that as soon as news of the beating spread in the hospital community, the main gate to the health institution was immediately locked by security men to ensure that the police officer did not leave the hospital until he had explained the reason behind his barbaric action to the hospital management.

And in a matter of minutes, every doctor in FETHA stopped attending to patients in solidarity with their wounded colleague as the accused police officer was detained in the office of the CMAC of the hospital for questioning. He was only released to a delegation which came from the state Commissioner of police, CP Maman Sule, to effect his arrest.

Some of the medical doctors who were enraged by the action of ASP Tella demanded that the officer should undergo a holistic psychiatric treatment before leaving the hospital as they claimed that their lives were no longer safe while discharging their primary responsibility to the general public. They recalled the killing of some health workers in Kano a week earlier and expressed shock that a similar action was almost meted out to one of their colleagues.

Addressing the fuming medical doctors, Chairman Medical Advisory Council, CMAC, of FETHA, Dr. Chinedu Nwigwe, who gave a detailed account of the unfortunate incident, urged them not to take the law into their hands but rather allow the law to take its due course.

He said: “The officer after making several calls to his wife came into the hospital and saw the doctor talking to the wife and asked for the doctor’s identity and after he confirmed the doctor’s identity through the Chairman Medical Advisory Council, CMAC’s office, he became incensed, saying that he is a Muslim, the wife is a Muslim and so man should be talking to her.

“He used tear gas on the doctor; he assaulted the doctor physically; the doctor was assaulted and brought to my office. I must say that the doctor is safe, apart from the chemical injuries to his eyes. Whatever the officer did, he did it on the spur of the moment.

We have informed the CMD and the Commissioner of Police who sent the Assistant Commissioner of Police, CID, to come to arrest the man and the hospital is following up the case. We are sending some of our senior officials of ARD, and the hospital lawyer is here to ensure that justice is done.

“We should be seen as civilized people. We shouldn’t be seen as people in the jungle who believe in jungle justice. And I must tell you that the hospital will not take this matter lying low. But we are appealing to all of you that two wrongs cannot make a right. Let us now allow the judicial officers to carry out their duties”.

In a chat with Vanguard Metro, the President, Association of Resident Doctors, ARD, Fetha Chapter, Dr. Oti Kennedy decried the condition of the wounded doctor and called for the dismissal of the officer. He declared that: “The attack was unprovoked, unjustifiable in all ramifications;  in fact, I’m angry because we are not sure whether the doctor will regain his sight”.

Affecting arrest of the accused ASP, the Assistant Commissioner of Police, state CID, ACP Fave Cemali, assured “that we are going to take appropriate action on this matter”.

In a press conference, the Chairman of NMA in the state, Dr. Chidi Esike called on the Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Abubakar and the Police Service Commission, PSC, to summarily dismiss ASP Tella. He stated that the suspect should be prosecuted and the full weight of the law allowed to take its course.

According to him, the medical doctor who was brutalized and was still receiving treatment in the hospital should be adequately treated, his medical bills paid and adequately compensated by the Nigeria Police. He said: “We therefore ask that the Inspector General of Police and the Police Service Commission to summarily dismiss the said ASP Sani Tella from the Nigerian Police Force.

The Nigerian Medical Association, Ebonyi State, thinks that ASP Sani Tella is a risk to Nigerian citizens and by his actions does not have the capacity and is not amenable either by training or otherwise to protect Nigerian citizens”.

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