Medical doctor serves 26 months suspension beyond sentence period

July 11th, 2019

By Hassan Zaggi

The Medical and Dental Council Tribunal sitting in Abuja, yesterday, sentenced a Lagos-based medical doctor, Wilfred Vitalis, to six months suspension for professional misconduct.

The tribunal ordered the doctor not to engage in medical practice for 6 months with effect from November 30, 2016.

Dr. Vitalis has been on suspension since the past 32 months- from November 30, 2016, till the time the judgement was delivered.

It therefore, means that, Dr. Vitalis has served his 6 months suspension with extra 26 months.

While delivering the judgement, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Prof. Abba Waziri Hassan, said: “Having listened and considered the plea for leniency from the respondent, especially as a first offender and having been on suspension since the November 30, 2016, this honorable tribunal is mindful not to pass a maximum punishment for ordering the Registrar to strike out the respondent’s name off the register.

“However, the respondent cannot escape the bigger consequence of his professional misconduct.

“The respondent is accordingly sentenced to 6 months suspension from practice. He is hereby ordered not to engage in medical practice for 6 months with effect from November 30, 2016.

“Having being on suspension since November 30, 2016, he is deemed to have served his suspension as ordered. That is the direction of this Honourable tribunal.”

Responding to questions from journalists, the Counsel to respondent, Bar. Sylvanus Ogbonna, said he was partly satisfied with the ruling.

According to him: “One thing about the judgement is that the Honourable Tribunal was mindful of the fact that my client has been on suspension since 2016 for an offence that could only attract a maximum of six months suspension.

“We are grateful to the tribunal for that singular reasoning.

“We are partly satisfied with the judgment to an extent.”

Bar. Ogbonna recalled that: “The fact of the case is that the patient (deceased) was brought to my client, eventually he was not on ground when the patient was brought to his hospital. By my assessment he gave the right instruction for the patient to be attended to and the patient was attended to properly.

“When it was obvious that the hospital cannot continue the treatment because the situation was escalating, my client also gave instructions that the child be referred to another hospital which was done in record time which the child passed away a day after.

“The parents of the child now brought the report to the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) investigative panel, but one thing was very instructive, from the beginning of this case till when the report was made and even till judgement, the cause of death was not determine because there was no autopsy, there was no death certificate issued by the hospital that the child was referred to.

“So, there is nothing anybody could know or determine the cause of the death of the child.”

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