The serial arrangement of Adepele’s multiple supernumerary teeth will always counfound those who dare to count. Is it the mandibular overcrowd or the maxillary offshoots? It is the story of Nigeria; when you are confronting a demon, thousands will lunge at you. December 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan signed the National Health Bill into law. Some provisions of the Act have empowered doctors to remove the organs of living persons without authorisation. The bill only raised a few brows because Buhari just won his primaries and there was mass fixation on the campaign. To date, this law is the most egregious violation of Nigerians right to life. I am unaware if any amendment have been made to the law.
Section 51 of the Act states that:
(1) A person shall not remove tissue from a living person for transplantation in another living person or carry out the transplantation of such tissue except:
(a) In a hospital authorised for that purpose; and
(b) On the written authority of;
(i) The medical practitioner in charge of clinical services in that hospital or any other medical practitioner authorised by him or her; or
(ii) In the case where there is no medical practitioner in charge of the clinical services at that hospital a medical practitioner authorised thereto by the person in charge of the hospital.
(2) The medical practitioner stated in subsection(1)(b) shall not be the lead participant in a transplant for which he has granted authorisation under that subsection.
(3) For the purpose of transplantation, there shall be an independent tissue transplantation committee within any health establishment that engages in the act and practice of transplantation as prescribed.”
What this means for Nigerians is that the government has empowered doctors and ritual killers. The ritual killing trade unknown to many of us, is actually the informal organ transplant trade. Abducted Nigerians are routinely slaughtered and their organs harvested and sold. With this law, there is a renewed justification for organ harvesting by doctors in hospitals without prior consent. The body of Nigerian citizens have been reduced to spare parts which can be removed and sold to wealthier citizens.
In a country where placentas, newborn babies are sold, can you trust doctors not to harvest organs of the helpless while the patient is not brain dead even with informed consent?
At the time, Mr. Femi Falana revealed that a powerful Foundation in the United States influenced the introduction of Section 51 to the bill at the National Assembly. None of the legislators challenged the provision and it is now law. In America and other countries of the West, only the donor or his next of kin has the power to authorise that an organ be removed. At the back of every American driver’s license is the notice to doctors on who has signed on as an organ donor. What safeguards have we? In a country where placentas, newborn babies are sold, can you trust doctors not to harvest organs of the helpless while the patient is not brain dead even with informed consent?
This ouster means doctors and hospitals have the freedom to remove tissues and organs of Nigerian citizens as any medical condition may be considered an emergency. That is, what is wrong with this law.
One can argue that there are positive provisions in the Act. That is true; it is now mandatory for all hospitals to provide medical services to victims of accidents and gunshots without a police report. It also states that anyone denied access to basic health has the right to seek redress in court. Among many other good things, it claims that industrial action in the health sector shall be resolved within, because, health is now classified as an essential service by the Act. However, we cannot discount the fact that it is the medical doctor or a hospital administrator (not the donor) who has the power to authorise that an organ be removed from a living Nigerian. The law defines organ as, kidney, liver, heart, lens, eggs and sperm. People who have not read the law intently may argue that section 48 speaks to “informed consent” by a donor. Unfortunately the consent is ousted because consent “may be waived for medical investigations and treatment in emergency cases”. Should there be a waiver to the fundamental right of a Nigerian to life and dignity under any medical condition? This ouster means doctors and hospitals have the freedom to remove tissues and organs of Nigerian citizens as any medical condition may be considered an emergency. That is, what is wrong with this law.
According to Mr. Falana, the Judiciary and Legal Matters committee illegally removed the age of 18 years in the original bill and replaced it with 11 years when it was referred to it for further legislative work.
While still at that, another one is here. It is the Sexual Offences Bill. In the bill, it is life in prison for any individual found guilty of rape or sexual intercourse with children under 11 years; 10 years for incest; 10 years for child pornography or a fine of N2 million; and 14 years for sexual abuse, among others. Why 11 years and not 18? The bill has drawn a lot of opprobrium, especially from Professor Wole Soyinka and Mr. Femi Falana because it appears those incidents will not be considered crimes if the victims are older than 11. It also gives a lot of wiggle room to would be rich offenders who can afford good legal representation to get a no jail card by paying two million Naira fine instead of life in prison. I am sure Senator Sani Yerima would love this. According to Mr. Falana, the Judiciary and Legal Matters committee illegally removed the age of 18 years in the original bill and replaced it with 11 years when it was referred to it for further legislative work.
For many girls in the North, puberty signals the march into inequality, truncating a critical growth period for learning and identity formation, which are essential in moulding a mature woman and complete human being.
It appears the sponsor of the bill and others are unaware of this legislative ambush by the Yerimas of the Senate. Like the National Health Bill before it, the Senators do not do a good job at examining every piece of legislation thoroughly. How many of them hire aides with legal background to help them navigate the booby traps in bills before they becomes laws? This Sexual Offences Bill has given official sanction to child molestation and child marriage. Child marriage is one of the major reasons why the North has continued its decent into chaos. It is sad that Senators from the North are more concerned about their loins and those like them, than to device means of changing social norms that serve to legitimise child marriage and undermine education.
The President must veto this bill for its intent at sabotage and the collective violation of a people’s aspirations at creating opportunities for girls.
With this legislative conspiracy against women and the girl child, the Northern Senators who influenced this wicked last minute change continue to up-end Nigeria’s tiny improvements on maternal and infant mortality rates by registering increasing complications from underage pregnancy and childbirth. For many girls in the North, puberty signals the march into inequality, truncating a critical growth period for learning and identity formation, which are essential in moulding a mature woman and complete human being. For child brides, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Vesico Vagina Fistula remain potent threats to their existence, condemning them to a world of stigma and rejection.
It is very sad, that Senators from the North are not worried that their states’ continue to underperform the odds by becoming the geographic “hotspot” for low education, child marriage, terrorism, fewer opportunities etc., and these things have a way of feeding themselves. The President must veto this bill for its intent at sabotage and the collective violation of a people’s aspirations at creating opportunities for girls. Girls, need education, health, social and life skills to become fully empowered citizens. President Muhammadu Buhari, please do not give assent to this bill. Send a clear and distinct message to pedophiles and cross-border sex traffickers like those in the Senate to guard their loins instead of obsessing about a woman’s sexual parts.
Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú maintains a weekly column on Politics and Socioeconomic issues every Tuesday. She is a member of Premium Times’ Editorial Board. Twitter @olufunmilayo