Psychiatrists body kicks against proposed FRSC’s mental test for road offenders

The recent proclamation by the Federal Road Safety Corp to commence psychiatric tests for road users may not be popular as the corp as expected as the umbrella body of shrinks in Nigeria, the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria, has kicked against such.

In a statement released and signed by its president, Professor Joseph D. Adeyemi, the body complained that such is act capable of discrimination and stigmatisation.

According to the release:

The directive from the Federal Road Service Corp that from the 1st July, 2017, drivers using mobile phones while driving among others would be apprehended and made to undergo ‘Mental Test’ hit every Nigerian in a jolt. The timing of the directive was a bit surprising because some months earlier there was a hint that drivers in the city of Abuja using cell phones while driving would be so treated. We are aware that Psychiatrists in the Federal Capital Territory and others were opposed to the idea. Their opposition was based on the fact that such a discriminating and stigmatizing proposition is not in the best interest of Nigeria as a member of the comity of nations. Despite unanimous opposition for this “Mental Test”, the FRSC has issued a directive to force traffic offenders to undergo psychological assessment.

The Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria believes this directive apart from trivializing mental and behavioral disorders will further worsen the stigma our patients are enduring. The Executive Committee of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria is therefore left with no alternative but to ask members in all hospitals in length and breadth of Nigeria not to carry out any assessment on fellow Nigerians because of traffic offences.

The laws in Nigeria however belated, assumes every Nigerian is of sound mind unless so declared by a medical practitioner. The laws allows any medical practitioner to section and detain anyone suspected of being mentally ill for observation and for treatment. Other members of the public when necessary are at liberty to approach the courts with an affidavit and obtain a court order to send people suspected of being mentally ill to hospitals for observation. The FRSC are at liberty to take this route if they suspect fellow Nigerians are mentally ill because they commit traffic offences.

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