Lagos lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, has said President Muhammdu Buhari’s medical treatment abroad constituted a gross abuse of the rights of the less-privileged and underscored the pervasive inequality among Nigerian citizens
Falana, who however, said the president deserves the best treatment to sustain his mental ability and competence, posited that it constituted an abuse of rights and class differences, if such privilege can’t be enjoyed by other Nigerians.
The lawyer was of the opinion that the federal government should henceforth pay the ransom demanded by kidnappers for any kidnapped Nigerian, saying “the responsibility of government is to protect our lives and property.
“Let me say, if I am kidnapped today and I pay ransom to secure my freedom, I will surely take FG to court to refund my money because it is the responsibility of government to secure my life,” he said.
He said it sounded so unfathomable that the president and other top Nigerians like the late Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme could be hurriedly flown abroad for medical treatments while Nigerian hospitals were being ill-equipped thereby causing death of poor Nigerians who suffer lesser afflictions.
The lawyer spoke on Thursday at Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti during the launching of a book entitled: ‘Financing Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria’ written by Dr Olaofe Ogundipe.
Falana, who presented a lecture titled: ‘The Justiceability of Health
As a Human Right’, said Section 17 of the constitution and National Health Act 2014 made it a matter of imperative for government to foot the medical bills of poor Nigerians, regretting that these are not being implemented.
The human rights activist added that the level of ignorance among Nigerians are still very high and this he said accounted for why vast majority of them don’t take governments to courts on issues of abuses of rights.
“In the last couple of years, President Buhari has been flown abroad for medical treatment at public expense . In the same vein, the
federal government recently announced that it would pick up the medical bills of the late former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme in a London hospital.
“While the nation’s leaders deserve the best medical treatment for the preservation of their lives, it is our submission that the federal government must bear the medical bills of all citizens without discrimination.
“This submission is anchored on Section 42 of the constitution which
has guaranteed the fundamental right of every citizen to freedom from discrimination in a manner that no citizen shall be accorded any special advantage over and above others.
“While it is correct to state that section 17(3) of the constitution which has imposed a duty on state to ensure that there are adequate
medical and health facilities for all persons is not justiceable, it is submitted that the fundamental right to health which is inseparable to the right to life is enforceable,” he said.
Falana urged the federal government to ensure the effectiveness of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) by making it affordable for every citizen.
“Instead of the healthcare providers to do the right thing, they were only using the opportunity to cheat the subscribers by giving them undeserving patronage for them to make more money,” he alleged.