The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Delta State, has petitioned the police over the alleged detention of a 10-year-old boy, Prince Emeghene Idiovwa, by the management of a Warri-based private hospital over unpaid medical bills.
The CDHR stated that the victim was shot by a vigilante in Orhuwhorun, in the Udu Local Government Area of Delta State on June 21, 2019, and was rushed to Syracuse Clinic, Warri, for treatment.
According to the group, after the treatment, the clinic gave the family an interim bill of N861,500.
The petition, addressed to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 5, Benin, dated February 11, 2020, and signed by the CDHR Secretary, Jonathan Giama, accused the Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Victor Oraegbu, of “unlawful incarceration, imprisonment and detention.”
The rights group stated that the decision of the hospital contravened the Child’s Rights Act 2003 and the Delta State Child’s Right Law 2008. The group argued that the father of the boy was dead, while the patient, who was out of school was being “enslaved at Syracuse Clinic and subjected to inhumane treatment, mental and physical torture and psychological trauma.”
The CDHR urged the police authorities to determine if the hospital could detain the child due to accumulated hospital bills.
“Issues of accumulation of unpaid hospital bills and debt are civil matters that can be settled by mere filing of a claim in a court of law. But issues of unlawful incarceration, imprisonment or detention of a child are criminal in nature that must not be condoned by the society,” the petition stated.
The organisation said the child and his parents were not responsible for the unpaid bills but the vigilante who shot him. The Medical Director of Syracuse Clinic, Warri, Dr Victor Oraegbu, denied detaining the patient over unpaid bills.
Rather, he alleged that his mother, Mrs Tina Idiovwa, had been accusing the hospital management of demanding outrageous bills, which she could not afford as a widow. Asked the victim’s total bills, he said since the matter was going to court, he would demand N2.5m.
“I have already handed over the child to the police in order to use legal means to retrieve the bills,” he added.
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