AGF Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) Pledges Review of Law Criminalizing Suicide Attempts

Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, has committed to reassessing the law criminalizing suicide attempts in Nigeria. This pledge was made during a meeting with a delegation from the Asido Foundation, an NGO dedicated to mental health advocacy and reforms.

In a statement released in Abuja on Sunday by Kamarudeen Ogundele, Special Adviser to the President on Communications and Publicity in the Office of the AGF, Fagbemi emphasized the administration’s focus on health, particularly under President Bola Tinubu.

Fagbemi acknowledged the need to reevaluate the law, especially in cases where offenders are deemed to be mentally unstable. He emphasized the importance of compassion, treatment, and support for individuals struggling with mental health issues to address such societal challenges.

However, Fagbemi clarified that any actions taken at the federal level would not be binding on the states. He expressed his intention to discuss the matter with the Body of Attorneys General to initiate broader dialogue on potential reforms.

Furthermore, Fagbemi committed to engaging his colleagues in the Federal Ministry of Health to address concerns regarding the implementation of the Mental Health Act, which was signed into law by former President Muhammadu Buhari in January 2023.

Dr. Jibril Abdulmalik, the founder of Asido, urged the AGF to intervene in reviewing the law and ensuring the effective implementation of the Mental Health Act. Abdulmalik highlighted the prevalence of mental illness among individuals attempting suicide and emphasized the need for medical intervention and support rather than punitive measures.

Abdulmalik stressed that individuals in crisis require assistance and treatment, not punishment or incarceration. He underscored the burden on judicial officers and advocated for diverting such cases to healthcare facilities instead of overburdening the legal system.


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