The family of the late Hon. Temitope Olatoye Sugar is demanding N200million as damages from the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, over the circulation of gory photos of the deceased’s bullet riddled body on social media.
Photos of Sugar’s bloodied body lying almost lifeless at the Intensive Care Unit of UCH found their way to the social media following the incident in which he was shot in the eye on Saturday March 9, by unknown gunmen at Lalupon.
In the petition to the hospital, the family said UCH caused members more grief by allowing the circulation of the photos on social media. The petition which was prepared by Barr. C. C. Amedu of Ikeh Sunday Chambers, Ibadan, was also sent to the Minister of Health and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Ibadan chapter.
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.”
According to the Olatoye’s the trending photos have been a source of negative stories and a painful reminder to Sugar’s gruesome murder, both of which have subjected members of the family to “a lasting unimaginable depression, mental and psychological torture.”
The family accused the UCH management violating 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.
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. They also demanded a written apology from the said members of staff which should be published in not least than three national newspapers.
The petition said the hospital must accede to the above requests within seven days or have “an aggravated negligence action” filed against it in court.
In the meantime, the family have described negative stories and testimonies about Olatoye Sugar who was representing Lagelu/Akinyele Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives before his murder, as false and the handiwork of mischief makers.
Five suspects are currently in police custody in connection with the murder. One of the suspects is the Chief Whip of Oyo State House of Assembly, Hon. Olafisoye Akinmoyede.