UNICEF urges Nigerian government to release juveniles from prisons

United Nations  International Children Emergency Fund(UNICEF), has called on Nigeria government to  facilitate an early release of innocent children held in her Correctional facilities 

Mr. Ibrahim Sesay,   the UNICEF’s Chief Child Protection  made the call in Abuja on Friday during   stakeholders   meeting on implementation of  juvenile decongestion programme and  decongestion of Custodial Centres in Nigeria.

He said the International agency is advocating an investigation and court processes reforms that would.squarely address the plights of children.

The agency is also pushing for restitution, alternative speedy trial,  post trial of case involving children and capacity building for justice sector actors both at the federal and state levels.

Stating that  the stakeholders in conjunction with UNICEF were able to effect the release of 700 inmates since the inauguration of the Presidential committee in 2020, Sesay  said that detention of juvenile should be as a measure of last resort.

“Best place for a child is the family and immediate community,” he said.

The Attorney General of Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN), said the meeting was specifically called to look into the cases of nine juveniles from the National Correctional Service, Borstal Institute, Adigbe, in Ogun state.

According to the report of the prison visitation team of the committee, one of the juveniles recommended for release had spent two and  half years of his three years jail terms for stealing four fishes.The boy was jailed while in primary six in 2019.

The Chairman, Presidential Committee on Correctional Service Reform and Decongestion, retired JusticeI Ishaq Bello, stated  during the virtual meeting with stakeholders in Abuja that the three Borstal Institutions in the country are inadequate.

The committee commenced the first phase of the Juvenile decongestion programme on  September, 29, 2020 while the second phase commenced in May this year, to assess remand homes and Borstal Institutes in Lagos and Ogun states.

Borstal Institutions are also known as children Reformatory homes or Juvenile Detention Centres, which are run by the Nigerian Correctional Service. 

There are currently three  Borstal Institutes in the country, located in Ogun, Kwara and Kaduna states.