The family of the late Hon. Temitope Olatoye Sugar has tendered
a petition against the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, demanding for N200 million damages over the viral gory pictures of the deceased that hit the social media without the family approval.
The petition was also sent to the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, and the Ibadan Chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
Though the family acknowledged that doctors and other members of staff attending to the late Sugar declared to themselves in the presence of Sugar’s family members that taking photographs of patients was prohibited, they were surprised to see such photographs circulating on online newspapers and social media hours later.
They posited that the trending online photographs have been serving as a painful reminder to Hon. Sugar’s gruesome murder.
The family added that they also subjected them to “a lasting unimaginable depression, mental and psychological torture.”
They insisted that the ICU of a hospital is a restricted area, hence only members of staff of the hospital had access to the dying Olatoye in the pool of his blood.
They demanded a written apology from the said members of staff which should be published in not least than three national newspapers.
Should the hospital fail to accede to the above request within seven days, the Olatoyes threatened to ‘commence an aggravated negligence action against the hospital in court.’
They reminded the UCH management of the Hippocratic oath, ethics and international best practices in the medical profession which protect the rights of a dying patient to die in peace and dignity and which also mandate medical practitioners to maintain utmost respect for human life, avoid using their privileges as medical practitioners to violate human rights and which also mandate them to practice the profession with conscience and dignity.
The petition read in part: “Flowing from the above, it is disheartening that despite the earlier instructions and directives from your staff at the Intensive Care Unit and Pathology Department, your staff caused/allowed the taking, circulation and publication of horrific and dehumanizing photographs of the deceased which have been trending online and all over social media without the prior consent of the deceased or his relatives.
“We hereby attached some of the photographs for your kind perusal and necessary action.
“A cursory assessment of the attached photographs revealed that the deceased as at the time the photographs were taken, was still at the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital in a pool of blood, therefore, it is reasonable and unarguable to believe that only your staff could access the unit at the material time.
“The above conduct of your staff suggested that instead of your personnel on duty to have acted in their full professional capacity, focusing on taking care of the deceased, which might have probably saved his life, they were busy taking his pictures which perhaps for the purpose of selling same to social media operators as it can be seen trending online.”
Describing the act as an unethical and brazen display of professional misconduct of the hospital’s staff, the Olatoyes also demanded the immediate recall of the published photographs from the public domain and punishment for the staff guilty of the offence.