FG, stakeholders move to reform juvenile institutions, remand homes
The Federal Ministry of Justice and stakeholders in the justice administration have initiated moves to reposition Nigeria’s Borstal Institutions and Remand Homes, with the objective of reforming and reintegrating inmates, most especially children, caught up in the web of terrorism and violent extremist activities.
To achieve this, the Ministry, alongside the Presidential Committee on Correctional Reforms and Decongestion and the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS), held a one-day stakeholder round session on the review of the Borstal Institution and Remand Centre Act.
The session, according to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, was aimed at producing a reformatory and rehabilitative system that wiould guarantee the protection of children in conflict with the law in accordance with the internationally accepted standard.
The AGF said: “The objectives of the review are two-fold. First is to bring the provisions of the Act in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999; the Child Rights Act, 2003; the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015; as well as the Correctional Services Act of 2019. The second objective of the review is to reflect current realities in terms of administrative structures and operational realities in present day Nigeria.
“The ultimate objective, therefore, is to bring the Borstal Act in line with international practices in a way that it will align with the best interest of the child requirements under the United Nation’s Child’s Right Convention.”
According to Malami, the necessity for the review became even more compelling in view of the ongoing developments regarding children that are entangled in acts of terrorist activities.
Represented by Mrs. B. E Jedy-Agba, Solicitor-General of The Federation and Permanent Secretary, the AGF said: “The final draft bill, which will emerge from your joint deliberations, will be presented by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to the President for onward transmission to the National Assembly.”
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbeola, in his goodwill message, stated that on assumption of office, he was disturbed by the deplorable state of Borstal institutions vis – a – vis the constitutional rights of the children in custody and their rights as contained in the Child Rights Act.
However, he said, having taken a cursory look at the bill to be considered and saw that the innovative sections have been incorporated into the bill, he was pleased to note, “they include the administration of the correctional institutions, trainings, skill acquisition and educational programmes, early release and after–care re-integration programmes.”
Also, in a goodwill message, the Comptroller-General of NCoS, Haliru Aliru, stressed: “Nigeria, being a member of the international community, has ratified the Convention on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (CRWC) and as such committed to establishing a reformatory and rehabilitative system that will guarantee the protection of children in conflict with the law in accordance with the internationally accepted standard.”
Aliru Specifically pointed out that in such reformative efforts, “the new Act of 2019 has made provision for the Correctional Service to separate male and female Borstal Training Institutions for juvenile offenders.”