Daily Law Tips (Tip 625) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

SELLING DRUGS/APPLIANCES OBTAINED FOR FREE IS AN OFFENCE.

It is common to find persons who collect drugs and medical/surgical equipment for free from government hospitals and then sell them. There are a lot of medical professionals in the supply chain that take advantage of our health system, to fund and supply their private clinics/hospitals and even NGOs with such items. NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisation) and medical missions/outreaches that obtain free medical and surgical materials but sell them to the public (especially in rural areas and religious centers) are warned.

Like in most states in Nigeria, in Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, there is a specific legislation against such practices. By the provisions of the Hospital Fees Act of 1917, it is a offence for any person to sell medical or surgical materials obtained for free from any government hospital or government dispensary. It is an offence punishable with fine of twenty Naira (N20) plus payment of the medical/surgical appliance at the highest rate.

The penalty of twenty Naira (N20) is laughable and far from a punishment in our present community. The Hospital Fees Act came into operation since 30 August 1916; that is about 103 years ago! There is an urgent need for amendment of the law.

My authorities are:

1. Sections 1, 2 and 7(a) of the Hospital Fee Act 1971, Laws of Nigeria (Abuja) and similar laws in states across Nigeria.

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