- UNDER AGED CHILDREN IN NIGERIA’S PRISON: YAPJEN LAMBAST NIGERIA POLICE
- Urges Judges and Magistrates to decongest prisons.
Youth Advocates for Peace Justice and Empowerment Network (YAPJEN), a human right, good governance and social justice group has come hard on the Nigeria police for its role in huddling up under aged children in Nigeria correctional centres (Formerly Nigeria Prison).
According to Amb. Timothy Nwachukwu, the Executive Director YAPJEN, while speaking on the backdrop of the recent revelation made by Citizen Dim Emeka Obasi where a 15 years old orphan was left in Lagos prison for stealing after the Police officer in charge of his case deliberately wrote that he was 18 years of age to punish him.
The Youth activist stated that the Nigerian correctional centre (Nigeria prison system) has become a breeding ground for hardened criminals, therefore, locking up minors accused of spurious offences like – running away from school, wandering, stealing and breach of public peace with dangerous convicts is counterproductive, homicidal and defeats the objective of reforming delinquents as the treatment these minors were subjected to could have changed their psyche permanently.
Amb. Nwachukwu also noted that this recent case is a microcosm of the avalanche number of
minors languishing hopelessly behind bars across the country as a report by the United States estimated that 6,000 children are locked up in Nigeria’s notorious jails and detention centres across the nation.
YAPJEN is therefore making a strong demand that Child offenders should not be part of the rot in our nation’s overcrowded prison cum correctional centres rather the Federal and State Governments should adopt new pragmatic solutions and work with the police, who arrest minors arbitrarily for inconsequential offences, so that when minors are arrested, they will be tried at juvenile courts, while convicted minors should be sent to remand homes, and not the overcrowded prisons.
“Convicted minors can also be sentenced to community service,” they said.
Amb Timothy Nwachukwu further called on State chief judges and Magistrates to frequently review the cases in the correctional centres within their jurisdictions and release child offenders that are being held for minor offences.
Further more, YAPJEN is demanding that a rehabilitation in form of educational and vocational programmes be put in place to discourage the children from drifting back into crime.
They bemoaned the attitude of some Nigerian Police officers who are bent on sending minors to adult prisons as the prisons are begging for a comprehensive overhaul.
YAPJEN through its Executive Director further calls on the Nigerian Government to adopt the UK model which treats children aged between 10 and 17 differently when they commit a crime “by sending them to youth courts where the convicted ones are sent to Special Secure Centres protected by CCTVs, pagers and other technological tools and every day, the children study twice, do homework, vocations and sports as this goes a long way to achieve the intended reformation of convicted minors.”