The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), has called on stakeholders to provide legal and psychological support for juveniles soon to be released to ensure their proper re-integration back to society.
Malami gave the charge over the weekend at a virtual meeting with justice sector stakeholders from Ogun State on the implementation of amnesty and decongestion programme for juveniles.
The meeting was organized by the Federal Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the Presidential Committee on Correctional Reform and Decongestion and the Buni Yadi Foundation.
Speaking at the occasion, the AGF disclosed that the ministry, in order to target the necessary needs and requirements of the juveniles to be released, a few weeks back had dispatched a team of four experts to the Federal Borstal Institute at Adigbe, Abeokuta, Ogun State, to conduct a profile/need and risk assessment of the juveniles.
“To this end, today’s meeting is aimed at organizing a coordinated judicial action with the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Ogun State, Chief Judge of Ogun State, the Commissioner for Social Welfare Department, Ogun State, the Controller-General of Corrections Ogun State, the Principal of the Borstal Institute, Ogun State, UNODC, UNICEF, Legal Aid Council, FIDA and CSOs in Ogun State to provide legal and psychological support to the released juveniles for proper re-integration back into the society.
“While I applaud and appreciate the dedication and commitment of all stakeholders towards the implementation of the Juvenile Decongestion Programme, we shall continue to welcome the support of development partners and donor agencies in the ongoing programme,” the AGF said.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Correctional Service Reform and Decongestion, Justice Ishaq Bello (rtd.), has called for the establishment of more Borstal Homes in the country to tackle the issue of overcrowding in juvenile centres.
Bello, a former Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, who lamented that there are only three of such homes in the country, said the situation is responsible for the incarceration of juveniles in adult correctional centres, which he noted, is not good for the country.
Justice Bello said: ”In an effort to achieve our objective, the committee after visiting over 32 correctional centres in 18 states, observed that there were only three (3) borstal institutes in Nigeria; Ogun, Kwara and Kaduna States.
”We found that these institutes were grossly inadequate and overcrowded which has resulted in the ugly practice of sending juveniles to adult correctional centres. This is leaving a bad taste in the society as such juveniles are exposed to hardened criminals which in turn negatively influences their chances of re-offending if released.”