LILU Specialist Hospital, operating illegally at the Wuse Zone 2 Abuja, has shut down, The ICIR found out on Friday.
The facility, run by a North Korean, Jongsu Kim, who claimed to be Chinese, had run for four years in the nation’s capital.
The ICIR reported how the high and mighty in the country, including presidency officials and senior advocates, were patronising the hospital.
The newspaper confirmed that expatriates working with Kim were always inside the three-bedroom apartment the hospital occupied and would not come out in daytime.
The Korean, whose nationality The ICIR discovered after a rigorous investigation spanning months, drives an SUV with a diplomatic number plate, a privilege enjoyed only by diplomats.
As of September 2022, when the newspaper was investigating the facility, Kim received payment of bills by patients into his personal account, rather than the hospital’s. The facility treated each patient for between N150,000 and N500,000, and had attended to many patients.
The hospital did not have a signpost, further confirming its secret operations.
In the course of the investigation, The ICIR contacted Bartholomew Chigozie Awugozi, one of the hospital’s three directors. He is based in Awka, Anambra State, where he manages his hotels.
Awugozi’s reaction gave the investigation a new twist. He claimed he was the hospital’s legal owner.
The businessman was shocked that the hospital he opened in Port-Harcourt some years ago and had shut down because it was not yielding returns was running in Abuja by people he claimed not to know.
When contacted, the hospital’s lawyer, Matthias Adeyemi, challenged this newspaper and said the investigation was needless.He countered The ICIR findings.
When contacted again, after Awugozi claimed he owned the hospital and had run it in Port Harcourt, Adeyemi agreed that “some” of the newspaper’s findings were true.
Another striking part of the investigation is that while the Chinese Embassy responded to The ICIR request and said it did not know Kim and his hospital, the Korean Embassy in Abuja failed to speak on the issue after multiple enquiries and a visit to the embassy.
The Private Health Establishments Registration and Monitoring Committee (PHERMC), the private hospital registration and monitoring department in the nation’s capital, visited the hospital on Friday February 3, 2023 and met it locked.
The PHERMC had confirmed to The ICIR in its first report that Lilu Hospital never applied for registration in the city and was operating illegally.
Efforts by its officials who came with vests bearing the FCTA to get into the hospital failed as no one opened the door for them.
In its first report, this newspaper contacted several government agencies, including the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), FCT Internal Revenue Service (FCT IRS), Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and the Chinese and Korean embassies.
The newspaper was also at the Lilu community in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, where the hospital initially registered to operate. Lilu community bears the same name as the hospital.
The ICIR tagged the Federal Ministry of Health, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), and the Minister of Health when the first story was published. Only the NMA promised to look into the newspaper’s findings.
The publication shared the report with the country’s secret police – the Directorate of State Services (DSS) – but has not received any feedback from the Service.
The ICIR reports that the first report has attracted wide reactions from Nigeria and beyond the country’s shores, including the NMA (FCT chapter), which promised to investigate the hospital’s activities.
The newspaper learnt today from a reliable source that the report was causing some storms within the highest level of power in the country.
While many Nigerians commended The ICIR for exposing the hospital, some others, especially relations of those who were receiving treatment at the facility, knocked the newspaper for the work.