At 12 midnight on September 3, heavily drunk men assaulted hospital staff on duty at the Kubwa General Hospital leaving them in pains and agony, writes Dele Ogbodo
As night wears out into the day, conversation shifts effortlessly at emergency unit of the Kubwa General Hospital. Two of the hospital staff had been attacked. It was fourth in its series. Toyin Akesinro and Martha Solomon, both staff of the Kubwa General Hospital set out for work on September 3 like any other Nigerian, but they would not return to their family same way.
Before setting out for work that night, Akesinro had no premonition of what the hours ahead held for her. Her thought, perhaps, were the usual routine call of duty; carry out doctor’s instructions on patients as at and when necessary. But, as soon as the mother of three settled down to work that her attackers came for her.
“I noticed seven heavily drunk men stamping their feet at the door post of the hospital. They came inside with chorused questions and forcefully doling out instructions to me to get them card urgently. I saw a woman writhing in pain brought by them. I cannot immediately describe the cause of the pain, but she looked like an accident victim,” she said.
Akesinro understood the mood, she pointed straight to the direction where they would collect the card to begin their treatment process. ‘’I had to describe where they could fetch the card while I was making notes on what the woman needs at this critical time to relieve her of the pains and trauma.”
As Akesinro was making frantic efforts to contact relevant doctors on duty for the emergency and preparing required first aid on the patient, the men descended on her and left her brutally injured.
Summoning strength to recall, how it happened on that ungodly hour, she said, those men, seven in number actually came into the hospital at about few minutes past 12 midnight, in the middle of the night, with a woman, who they claimed was an accident victim. First they requested to see the doctor, and I said doctor was busy while advising them to try to get card first for the patient, while they allow me to perform the first aid medical service on the lady. They responded with a thunderous shout that nearly left the patients in our hospital scattered and shattered.
“It was at this point, that I informed them that it is not my work to get card for patients, advising them to go to the records department. As they were going, I later called them back that one person should come and stay with me while I attend to their patient so that I can administer some pain relief on her while they go about getting the card.
“I guessed this was where the whole trouble started from. They were enraged, obviously bitter on why I should sit down and cannot get the card for them, as they all started shouting and raining abuses on me for daring not to stand up to get the card for them,” she said.
Continuing, Akesinro said, “I told them politely that it’s not my duty to go and get card for them because records will ask important data questions. It was really at this point that trouble actually started, despite my plea for their cooperation and understanding to let me administer some drugs and injections on the patient to strengthen her while they go about the card, they rebuffed my plea and soon turned everywhere upside down.”
Sensing some danger ahead and perceiving the odour of alcohol from their bodies, she decided to play a smart one: “I perceived they were drunk and so I tried to step a little backward from them. Fortunately, there was a police officer who also brought a patient for another case of assault and he advised me that they were drunk, that I should be careful with them.
“My colleague too who was also sensing trouble in the air, she drew me and pushed me into our nursing station for protection, but by the time I closed door they attempted opening the door and our attendant, Danjumah, who was also on duty intervened by cautioning them to take it easy. Before we knew it these guys forced him out of the way, pounced on him and he was given the beaten of his life. He was held tightly on the neck, while one grabbed the folded wheel and used it powerfully to batter him, for just attempting to prevent them from disrupting the work flow.
“They later dragged him outside and slapped him, started beating him, holding him on his neck and started hitting him with a wheel chair and again the security man came and said this is hospital, what is happening, they faced him with similar beating. It was after these two went down that they pounced on me.”
Akesinro’s saving grace was the presence of the police officer who was around that early morning. According to her, the man sneaked out of the danger zone, quickly pulled a call through to his colleagues who mobilised to the scene. She recalled: “the police actually prevented the gory scene from escalating as the men brought out bottles of hot drinks from their car ready for a kill.”
Akesinro’s colleague who escaped by the whiskers corroborated all that the victims narrated to THISDAY, adding that the men came with three cars into the hospital premises. Pointing at the deflated red Toyota Camry car with Abuja registration number GX 234 ABC now parked in the hospital premises, she said: “They actually came with three cars one is still in the premises now as the police took the remaining two to the station. “Inside the car there are bottles of assorted hot drinks. This is not the first time neither is it the second time, our lives have always been in danger in the course of our work here.”
The Police say they are now investigating the matter and all victims and their attackers have made statement. They confirmed five out of the seven men are kept at the station for further interrogation.
Lamenting the incessant attacks on his staff, the Medical Director, Dr. Ahmed Danfulani, while confirming to THISDAY, said: “This hospital has become highly prone to attacks, last week my security was slapped and beaten. Almost every time we have this kind of horrible incident, of people coming to beat up hospital staff. This time around we are ready to follow it up to a conclusive end.
He said the hospital management will assist the three victims that were assaulted in seeking justice. “Whatever she wants we are going to back her up, because I cannot be here and they keep on assaulting and beating my staff all the time. In fact, I have made several requests that we should be given a police officer it is that bad because every day it is one problem or the other. Here just everyday something must happen if not for the grace of God. Can you imagine somebody coming into the hospital and start beating everybody!
While exonerating his staff from any wrong doing in the course of their work, Danfulani said: “We understand our responsibilities to emergencies, but there must be procedure to follow. You need to be here to appreciate the kind of harassment that we get every day in this hospital while we undergo a lot of stress to dispense treatment to our patients and to the general public.”
Though, Kubwa General Hospital is a government hospital, he stressed that it is not an entirely free one, adding that what most of the workers get in appreciation for doing good is harassment and slap on daily basis.
When asked the next level of action being mulled by the management, he said: “This is a lot of concern to me as the MD of this hospital. This is becoming embarrassing and I think what we need to do now is to have a stand by police officers whether they should be posted on routine or on a regular basis because I think that is the only way out. Because this is becoming a regular issue that we need to take care of, that is why the hospital will absolutely stand by the victims so that it will serve as deterrent to other intending people who will likely come and think that it is business as usual to come and start attacking us. We are working under serious stress; people should be patient with us.”
On whether the nurses are displaying a high level of double standard or high handedness, Danfulani said: “You see in all cases of emergencies we would not insist that you pay money before attending to you, we need somebody to be on ground. You don’t bring patient and say we found this patient on the street and then you dump him or her and then you go. It doesn’t work like that. There is need for somebody to stand by that patient that you brought to the hospital and even though we are not asking you to pay money you must stand there to assist that patient that is the rule. It is not about payment but about being around to support the patient, because if you dump it to hospital staff who takes care of the patient. You may be causing more hardship when certain information are needed.”
While reacting to the role of the police in the case, Police detective, Mr. Emmanuel Odobo, in an explanation said: It is most unfortunate because one of the victims pointing to Akesinro, has since been my tenant. According to him, the young men were actually drunk. While calling for calm, he said the police would play its role in ensuring that justice is brought to bear.
The staff and patients at General Hospital in Kubwa may afterwards be looking to government to protect them from further attacks.