Abuja man who tried to commit suicide risks a year in prison – Official
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Abuja man who tried to commit suicide risks a year in prison – Official

A Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) official in Abuja said on Tuesday that a man rescued on Monday from a suspected suicide attempt could face up to one year in prison if his trial is successful.

The Secretary of the FCTA Security Department’s Command and Control Centre, Peter Olumuji, cited Section 231 of the Penal Code to support his claim.

Mr Olumuji, who appeared as a guest on the Sunrise Daily programme on Channels Television, said Shuaibu Yushau, who survived the suicide attempt, is still in police custody.

“Why is he with the police? After the rescue operation, the emergency services carried out their usual procedures on him, and it is known that according to the Penal Code, Article 231, anyone who tries to commit suicide is subject to a penalty of one year in prison,” the official said during a TV program monitored by our reporter.

The police said in a statement on Monday that they received an SOS from concerned Nigerians, prompting them to dispatch officers to the scene to arrest Mr Yushau.

TV channels it was reported that the man threatened to sacrifice his life in exchange for a solution to the country’s difficult economic situation.

In a note he wrote and left on the ground before climbing the flagpole, Mr Shuaibu made various demands that he said would ease the hardships in the country.

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His demands include restoring fuel subsidies and declaring a state of emergency in some northern states where insecurity prevails.

Criminalization of attempted suicide

Attempted suicide is a crime under federal criminal law.

Both the Penal Code in force in the north of the country and the Penal Code Act in force in the south of the country consider attempted suicide to be an offence.

Article 231 of the Penal Code states that: “Anyone who attempts to commit suicide and undertakes any action aimed at committing such an offence shall be subject to the penalty of imprisonment for a term of up to one year or a fine, or both.”

Similarly, Article 327 of the Penal Code states that “Anyone who attempts to commit suicide commits an offense and shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of one year.”

Mr Olumuji, who was at the scene, reported that Mr Yushau only came down from the mast after hours of pleading.

He revealed that Mr Yushau claimed that he went to the premises to conduct an interview, not suspecting that he intended to commit suicide.

Mr Olumuji said a detailed investigation was underway to establish how Yushau was able to get up the flagpole without being noticed by security officers.

PREMIUM TIMES reported that Mr Yushau claimed he had been observing the flagpole for about a week before climbing it on Monday.

He claimed that his suicide was an act of protest against the socio-economic hardships plaguing the country.

He had he wrote down his terms to the government in a farewell letter, saying he was fed up with the difficulties the country was facing.

FCT Police spokeswoman Josephine Adeh confirmed that Mr Yushau was in stable condition in police custody.

Concerns about criminalizing attempted suicide

However, consultant psychiatrist and Professor Owojdoho Udofia, who also appeared as a guest on Channels Television alongside Mr Olumuji, expressed concerns over the ongoing detention of Mr Yushau by the police.

He said the survivor should have received medical attention rather than been detained.

He also said laws criminalizing attempted suicide were barbaric and needed to be reconsidered.

Reacting to Mr Udofia’s concerns, Mr Olumuji said the FCT Social Development Secretariat was conducting a medical examination of the survivor. He also stated that the police have a medical facility.

However, Mr. Udofia questioned the adequacy of the police clinic in handling suicide cases. He advised that the man, who could climb a 120-foot mast and stay there for hours, should undergo a thorough, professional medical examination.

However, Mr Olumuji insisted that Mr Yushau was not behind bars and assured that the police were handling the case professionally.

PREMIUM TIMES reported In October 2023, civil society group Nigerian Mental Health called on the government to repeal laws that punish citizens caught attempting to take their own lives.

Assessment of the survivor’s mental state

Meanwhile, Mr. Udofia described Mr. Yushau as mentally healthy, judging from his suicide note. He claimed that nothing in the suicide note indicated mental illness.

However, he added that “when it comes to his mental health, he’s definitely not in the best shape.”

World Health Organization (WHO) described mental health as “a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with life’s stresses, realise their abilities, learn and work well, and contribute to their community.”

Mr. Udofia noted that the content of the farewell letter indicates the lack of social well-being due to the current situation in the country.

He explained that every Nigerian is struggling with stress due to socio-economic hardships, which is affecting their overall mental well-being.

He also explained that mental, physical and social well-being are the three pillars of health and if any of them are impaired, it can create havoc.

Similarly, Mr. Olumiji stated that based on his conversations with Mr. Yushau, he could confirm that his mental health was good.

What determines mental health status can be related to exposure to social and economic factors, such as poverty and violence. Mental health problems can lead to mental disorders and even self-harm, such as suicide attempts.

It is known that people who attempt suicide experience a feeling of helplessness, bordering on the belief that the difficult situation they are in cannot improve.

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Abuja man who tried to commit suicide risks a year in prison – Official