Stakeholders in the justice system have called on the Lagos State Government to immediately take steps to remove juveniles from prisons located in the state.
Speaking at a summit on Criminal Justice Reform and Human Rights organized by Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE-Nigeria) in conjunction with the National Human Rights Commission, South-West Zone and the office of Public Defender, the stakeholders observed that the growing situation where juvenile are detained in adult prisons is worrisome and condemnable.
For the Coordinator, National Human Rights Commission, Lagos State office, Lucas Koyejo, the phenomenon of finding children detained with adults as is presently the case in many of our prisons, especially in Lagos State, need to be urgently and effectively addressed.
He said: “Juvenile justice basically emphasises rehabilitation instead of punishment and prevention rather than retribution. A criminal justice system that fails to reform the youths is a danger both to itself and the unborn generations. The criminal justice system must be restructured and reformed to rehabilitate both the young and all and sundry.”
On his part, Executive Director, CURE-Nigeria, Sylvester Uhaa noted that there is need to de-emphasise incarceration and imprisonment of children.
He said: “We must invest in education and creating jobs and enhance the earnings of their parents and guardians so that our children are taken care of. What we are asking government to do is to invest in welfare programmes that can improve the lives of children and that will reduce the numbers of children compelled by circumstances to resort to crimes.
“Most of the children arrested by Task Force or the Police are arrested because they are on the street. Most of them are children who are out of school.”
Meanwhile the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) on Thursday led scores of rights activists on a peaceful procession/rally to the governor’s office in Alausa, Ikeja.
During the rally, CDHR’s Chairman, Mr Alex Omotehinse, said many inmates were victims of circumstances and urged the state government to intervene in the matter.