A human rights group, Lawyers Watch For Justice International Initiative (LAWJII), based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria has called for the immediate arrest, arraignment and prosecution, for criminal negligence of Medical Doctors of University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) involved in the alleged non-consensual and authorized surgical operation on Rukayat Afolabi which led to the removal of her uterus(womb).
The rights group in a press briefing in Port Harcourt Today, August 21, 2019 also demanded the suspension and/or revocation of the medical licenses of the medical practitioners for gross incompetence.
Mrs Modilyne .O. Umunna(ESQ) who spoke on behalf of the group, explained that on February 1,2018 ,a heavily pregnant ,Rukayat Afolabi was admitted at UPTH, for delivery of her baby due to complications .Mrs Umunna stated that Rukayat Afolabi was in an excellent frame of mind at that time and walked into the theatre room without assistance..
She revealed that in course of the delivery of the still born child the medical team comprising of Prof(Dr.) John Ikimalo,Dr. Abel and Others, opted for an ill-fated surgical operation(HYSTERECTOMY),without her knowledge, informed consent and/or approval before her womb(uterus) was surgically removed.
According to the spokesperson of the group, Rukayat Afolabi was not informed that she has lost her womb as well as the ability to conceive and risks of her present health state even after she was discharged from the hospital nineteen days after the surgical operation.
She said ‘eight months after the surgery, Rukayat discovered that she was not experiencing her menstruation, which is a common symptom of the effects OOPHORECTOMY ,being a complete form of RADICAL HYSTERECTOMY’.
Upon medical investigation carried out on Rukayat by another competent medical facility, it was revealed to her that her uterus had been removed. The news of her womb removal left Rukayat traumatized uptill this moment.
LAWJII while addressing the press, condemned in its entirety the non-chalance and negligent conduct of the medical team that carried out the medical surgical operation and removed her reproductive organs without her informed consent.
The Rights body described the act as barbaric and flagrant disregard to Rukayat Afolabi’s right to bodily autonomy and integrity, contrary to Article 14(1)(a) of the AFRICAN CHARTER ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES RIGHTS as well as the extant provisions of THE CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN(CEDAW).
The Rights group said the most worrisome is that the surgical operation was carried out by medical professionals, who by their conduct have breached the professional ethics of the Nigerian Medical Association as enshrined in the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, Cap. M8,Laws of the Federation of Nigeria ,2004.
The body asserted that the exercise of the right to bodily autonomy and integrity, is inviolable and not one that that should be sacrificed or dispensed with at will, by persons who feel they have the power to play god with human life, or get to determine which body part is to be sacrificed without presenting same before the patient who has actual right over his/her body and life in line with provisions of ARTICLE 7 of the INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS.
The group further called on the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, the National Assembly, the Judiciary, the National Human Rights Commission, the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council and other Civil Society Organizations to condemn and ensure prosecution of all persons who are complicit in the inhumane and dehumanizing treatment melted out to Rukayat Afolabi, which has left her permanently incapacitated except God’s intervention.
The group added that in event any of the demands are not met, they shall not hesitate to institute legal action against the Management Board of UPTH.
Another member of the group Gbenga Oladapo(ESQ) while fielding questions from press men, said ‘there must be informed consent before such surgical operation can place’
Mr Oladapo also confirmed that the body has written to the Rivers State Police Commissioner, CP Mustapha Danduara for removal of the case from the present Investigating Police Officer(IPO) ,SUPOL Rufus in State Criminal Investigation Department(SCID) over discriminatory acts and intimidation of Rukayat Afolabi.
When Journalists in the press briefing contacted Meni Elabha ,spokesperson of UPTH,She said the organization will issue a statement on the matter at the appropriate time.