Senate summons Prisons boss over incarceration of minors

Senate summons Prisons boss over incarceration of minors

OrderPaperToday – The Senate on Wednesday mandated its Committee on Interior to invite the Comptroller-General of Prisons to brief it on the state of prison inmates in Nigeria; and to investigate the confinement of underage offenders and infants with adults in the same prison.

The mandate was part of resolutions reached by the red chamber following a motion by Senator Victor Umeh (APGA, Anambra) on the “Illegal confinement of under-aged offenders and infants in the same prison with adult prisoners.”

Speaking on the motion, Umeh noted that by the provisions of the Prisons (Regulations) Act, juvenile offenders under sixteen years of age and infants are not to be confined in the same prisons with adult offenders.

Speaking further, he made reference to a publication by The Nation newspaper of Saturday, March 31, 2018 which revealed that police prosecutors encourage underage offenders to inflate their ages during arraignments in courts, promising that it will aid their release.

“The negative implication of keeping underage children in conventional prison is that they will mix up with adult inmates who are likely to influence them negatively by using manipulation techniques to espouse and enforce beliefs and practices that create a paranoid view of the outside society,” Umeh said.

He also expressed worry over the possible repercussions of unlawfully keeping infants in prisons with mothers, stressing that it will lead to lack of proper upbringing, health implications, and psychological damages.

He therefore called for the establishment of more Juvenile Remand/Correctional Homes and Children’s Homes (Creches) across the nation which will purge the regular prisons of illegal confinement of the underage offenders and infants.

Contributing to the debate, Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna) lamented the state of Nigerian prisons and also called for an upgrade in their allowances and salaries.

The Senate in its other resolutions called on the Legal Aid Council to step up efforts to ensure that underage children are not prosecuted without legal representation in Courts.

It also urged various security agencies to ensure that minors are not incarcerated beyond 48 hours and are separated from the adult inmates if convicted.

 


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