Group urges government to address underage imprisonment
The executive director of Prisoners Rights Advocacy Initiative (PRAI), Mr. Ahmed Adetola Kazeem has urged Lagos State Government to urgently address the menace of underage imprisonment in the state.
He expressed concern over the plight of under aged prisoners in Lagos. According to him, the recent news about the release of 142 under aged persons across prisons in Lagos by the Chief Judge is one, which comes with mixed feelings.
“The release of the young inmates is welcomed but leaves us pondering –what went wrong, how did we get here, what are we doing to stem the tide of underage imprisonment? It is a fact that prison falls under the exclusive legislative list in the constitution; therefore the prison is managed and funded by the Federal Government.
“However, all the inmates in Badagry prison are committed or have been suspected to have committed offenses classified as state offences,” he said. According to him, after reading the report of the state of health of the young inmates recently released by the Chief Judge of Lagos State, he visited the prison. “The state of the prison here is nothing to write home about.
“I urge you most humbly to do something to ameliorate the plights of the young lads who are unfortunate to be staying there at the moment.“Our findings at the Badagry prison revealed that about 70 percent of the inmates in the prison were arrested for hawking or other related ‘offences’ and were sentenced to imprisonment terms ranging from few months to three years,” he noted.
He stated that the outbreak of infections and communicable diseases is a normal occurrence the prison for many reasons ranging from overcrowding, lack of ventilation, lack of beddings, mattresses, blankets, mosquito nets, unhygienic water, bad toilets facilities, lack of space for sports and recreation.
Speaking further, he stated that the prison also lack basic facilities such as enough vehicles to convey inmates to court and ambulance to convey them to hospital, particularly during emergencies, medical facilities, steady assistance from government hospitals, lack of facilities for rehabilitation and empowerment like; workshops for carpentry, tailoring, shoe-making and soap making, barbing salons, farm, insufficient general duty staff and professional staff like carpenters, tailors, farmers; lack of generating set; dilapidated staff quarters for junior staff.