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AGF promises second look into law criminalising suicide attempt

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), has promised to encourage the review of the law criminalising suicide attempts in the country.

Fagbemi made the promise on Sunday when he received a delegation from the Asido Foundation, a non-governmental organisation promoting mental health advocacy and reforms.

This was contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja by the Special Adviser to the President on Communications and Publicity, Office of the AGF, Kamarudeen Ogundele.

“The law is something we have to take a second look at, especially where it is established that the offenders are not in the right state of mind. What the offenders need is pity, treatment and love, to rid society of this kind of situation.

“But whatever we do is not binding on the states. So, I will take the case to the Body of Attorneys General,” Fagbemi said.

He promised to take up the issues around the Mental Health Act with his colleagues in the Federal Ministry of Health.

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Founder of Asido, Dr Jibril Abdulmalik, appealed to the AGF to help review the law sentencing people for attempted suicide and the implementation of the Mental Health Act signed into law by former President Muhammadu Buhari in January 2023.

He said medical evidence had shown that all over the world, 80 to 90 per cent of those who attempted suicide had background mental illness, especially depression.

Abdulmalik said, “It is because of a sense of hopelessness that makes them get to the edge where they think they are better off dying.

“In that situation what they need is help and treatment, not punishment and incarceration. We know the workload is heavy for our judicial officers… We don’t want them overburdened with cases that should ordinarily go to the hospitals,” he added.

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Gracie Brown
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