NIGERIA’S National Assembly has begun debating the Public Officers International Medical Treatment Trips Regulation Bill 2019 that will bar public office holders from receiving medical treatment abroad.
Under the terms of the proposed law, the president, governors and other public office holders will be barred from travelling abroad for treatment without court approval. Sponsored by Hon Sergius Ogun, the member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) representing Esan North-East/Esan South- East in Edo State, the bill has been slated for second reading in the House of Representatives.
This proposed act stresses that no public officer shall not embark on a trip for medical treatment abroad, without first seeking and obtaining an order of court, granting him/her leave to so do. It is now slated for its second reading, which if it passes will result in the bill being sent to the senate.
The bill reads: “A public officer who desires to travel abroad for medical treatment, shall apply to the federal high court for leave to travel abroad for medical treatment, showing cause why he/she must embark on the medical trip abroad. The court shall grant the public officer leave to travel abroad for medical treatment, when it is satisfied that the treatment being sought by the public officer is one which cannot be gotten within Nigeria and that from the showing of the public officer he/she has the legitimate means to undergo the treatment abroad.
“A public officer applying for leave to travel abroad for medical treatment, shall file a motion ex-parte, before the federal high court, supported by an affidavit of legitimate means, deposed to by him/her with the following exhibits. A duly signed medical report, certified true copy thereof, from a public hospital recommending further treatment abroad for the applicant.
“A duly signed referral form, showing the name of the indigenous hospital visited and the applicant’s treatment history. The bill goes further with a litany of other requirements, namely laboratory test evidence, evidence of appointment, promotion, salary slip and assets form.”
Among other things, the bill seeks jail, with an option of fine anyone who enters false information in their application. It says: “Where a public officer is found to have made false declarations in his or her affidavit of means, he/she shall be liable for and offence and shall upon conviction, be sentenced to an imprisonment term of 14 years, with an option of fine of N10m.”
Hon Ogun said the bill was necessitated by factors inimical to the economy of the country and its people. He added: “If those of us who can afford, all go abroad for treatment, what will our constituents who cannot afford treatment in Nigeria or do not have access to quality medication, do?”