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n IFE PsychologIA : An International Journal - The psychiatrist, the mentally ill and Nigerian law - a fate, a dilemma

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Abstract

A significant portion of Nigeria's laws evolved from British laws as a result of colonial relationship. In Britain, over the ages, the laws constituting sources of Nigeria's laws have undergone metamorphosis to adapt with changes. However such laws continue to exist in Nigeria's law books in the same form they were in Britain - in some cases centuries back - which are totally at variance with prevailing situations. This archaism reflects, inter alia, in the various aspects of law pertaining to the treatment and status of the mentally ill and allied issues. Having to operate under these outdated laws invariably imposes some burden in the mentally ill while creating enormous dilemma for the psychiatrist. This paper seeks to examine the principal Nigerian laws relating to mental illness vis-à-vis status of the mentally ill and the psychiatrist having to practise under such laws in the face of ethical pronouncements by the World Medical Association generally and the World Psychiatric Association (Hawaii Declarations 1977, 1983 and so on). "Laws" in the context of this paper principally refer to legislations as these will be the pivot of discourse. Nonetheless other sources of Nigerian Law - Common Law, Case Law, Customary Law, where relevant, will equally be incorporated. Likewise opinions of learned writers in treatises, journals and so on will not be leftout. Commentaries and suggestion for reforms will be proffered as deemed appropriate. The writer hopes that the paper will contribute to stimulating positive development in the mental health sector in Nigeria.

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/content/ifepsyc/10/2/EJC38520
2002-09-01
2016-12-08
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