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East Afr Med J. 2001 Jan;78(1):35-9.

Psychiatric aspects of criminal homicide in Nigeria.

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Rampton Hospital, Retford, England, DN22 OPD.



To investigate the Psychiatric aspects of homicide in Nigeria, and, the psychosocial and forensic background of homicide offenders in Nigeria; to determine the role of the mental health services in the disposal of the accused by the criminal justice system.


Retrospective study, involving interview of homicide convicts and, the scrutiny of court and prison documents for relevant clinico-forensic data.


Federal Prison, Jos, Nigeria.


One hundred and eighteen subjects participated in the study. Psychotic disorder (mainly paranoid schizophrenia) and alcohol intoxication accounted for the offenses of 28 (24%) accused. Amnesia for the events occurred in psychotic offenders. Psychiatric services were underutilised in the trial and disposal of the accused. Marked psychosocial maladjustment in offenders was suggested by a high rate (45%) of substance use disorders predating the homicide events. Thirty three (28%) offenders had dysfunctional family circumstances. Eighty six per cent of the accused were first time offenders. Adverse life events, predominantly in relation to the victims, were reported by 33 (28%) of the accused in the month predating the events.


Psychiatric disorders and substance use are significantly involved in homicide events in Nigeria. There is a need for close liaison between the psychiatric and criminal justice systems, in the disposal of all homicide accused. A continuing study of homicide in Nigeria is recommended, to bridge the gap in our present level of knowledge.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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