Lagos State Government has described the imprisonment of underaged children as unlawful.
The state Solicitor-General, Mrs. Funmilola Odunlam, made this known at Alausa, Ikeja during an interactive session with stakeholders on children welfare, including police and prison officers.
She was referring to the recent freedom granted 185 juveniles from different prisons by the Chief Judge, Justice Funmilayo Atilade.
Odunlami restated the government’s support for the protection of the right of the children as enshrined in the Child Rights Act.
She explained that the Child Rights Law prescribes sanctions for offending children and providing rehabilitation, rather than imprisoning term.
According to the Solicitor-General, there is need to provide appropriate training for magistrates presiding over matters concerning children in conflict with the law as well as relevant stakeholders.
She explained that the appropriate court, which is Family Court, should be allowed to exercise jurisdiction on matters affecting minors.
She said there was need for all hands to be on deck to checkmate incidences of restiveness among children through proper parental upbringing and societal support.
“Parents must begin to assume responsibility for their children by being more alive to their responsibilities. Gone are the days when parents left their roles to religious organizations and government”
“Legal officers should also know their areas of jurisdictions and limitations as well as law enforcement officers so that appropriate authorities could be contacted when the need arises,’’ she said.
Odunlami maintained that if appropriate courts were allowed to preside over issues that concern them, the incidences of sentencing minors to prisons would reduce.
Stakeholders deliberated on issues regarding alternative means of punishing children and introduction of community services by Magistrates when sentencing the minors.
They also sought for improved synergy between Ministry of Youth and Social Development and Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation for the introduction of additional skills acquisition programmes for children in correctional centres and rehabilitation homes.
The event was attended by Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs Titilayo Shitta-Bay, Head of the Family Courts, Justice Yetunde Idowu, Director of Citizens Rights, Mrs Clara Ibirogba, Director, Office of the Public Defender, Mrs. Olubunkola Salami, Director Community Service, Kareem Ikotun, and Controller of Ikoyi Prison Mr Julius Ezugwu, among others.
22 August, 2017