…I urge you in your upcoming retreat to generate ideas and strategies to bring about the effective reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of juveniles in line with International best practices – Malami
The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (HAGF) Malami Abubakar represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation/ Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba said this at the inauguration of 13 – Man Committee on review of Borstal Institutions and Remand Centres Act 2004 LFN today, 7th July, 2022 in Abuja. In his Keynote address, Malami echoed that, every day, millions of Children in Africa and around the world have their rights violated, denied access to education, health care and social benefits, unduly separated from their families, affected by exploitation, abuse and violence in their homes and community. “everywhere, groups of children are being left behind, victims of prejudice and discrimination, among the most vulnerable are children born into poverty, children of ethnic minorities, children in detention, children on the street and children with disability, yet, only a fraction of children whose rights are violated come forward and seek redress and even fewer obtain an effective remedy”. He emphasised.
The Honourable Minister who was worried about how a large number of children in Nigeria came in contact with the law as survivors of violence, but very few of those cases make it to the courtrooms, disclosed at a joint press briefing with the Human rights Commission that the Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ) is currently engaging with respective Heads of Courts to establish specialised Courts for the speedy and seamless trial of Rape/Gender-Based Violence Offences in the country.
Enumerating on the efforts of the FMOJ and development partners during Covid-19, Malami said that Amnesty and Decongestion programme was launched for children deprived of their liberty to reform, reintegrate and reunify them into the society, of which he said, over 200 children were benefited, with the help of NGOs, medical fees were paid for children in detention and scholarships were awarded to children who had shown exceptional intelligence.
However, for the sustainable reformation of the Nigeria Juvenile Justice System, Malami called for the review of the Nigerian Borstal Institute legal framework and bring it up to conformity with the Child Rights Act, 2003, The Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and the Correctional Services Act, 2019. “It is for this reason that the Ministry has now partnered with the Federal Ministry of Interior, Law Reform Commission and the Federal Ministry of Woman Affairs to review and prepared a draft bill of the Borstal institutions and remands Centre Acts 2004. The final document will then be presented to the President for onward transmission to the National Assembly for enactment into law”. He disclosed.
In his opening remarks, the Former Chief Judge FCT High Court and Chairman Presidential Committee on Correctional Reform and Decongestion Hon. Justice(DR) Ishaq Bello noted that the time has come to reform the Borstal Institutions to achieve the goals for which they were established. Hon. Bello stated that the examples of such reforms are effective public interventions in child welfare, child protection, criminal law/family law and family care can help address juvenile delinquency. ‘’The urgent need to amend the law cannot be over emphasized. Nigeria is witnessing an alarming increase of youth’s restiveness, radicalization and drug crimes. Introducing a system that helps prevent youth reoffending, recidivism and restiveness is urgently required to channel their energies towards the right path for their development and socio-economic and political stability of Nigeria’’, Bello maintained.
He also stressed that the juvenile justice system is in critical need of staff development and training, public support for rehabilitation, quality of legal counsel, effective use of information technology, improved system of monitoring and evaluation of programs/services as well as financial investments.
In her welcome remarks, Mrs Leticia Ayoola –Daniels, Acting Director, Administration of Criminal Justice and Reform Department, explained that following the launch of the Amnesty and the Congestion programmes for Juveniles by FMOJ and the subsequent assessment of over 300 children in Borstal institutions in the country, it became obvious that the legal framework of the Juvenile justice system especially as it relates to children in detention needed to be reviewed and strengthened to meet with Human Rights standard and international best practices.
In her acceptance speech, the Team leader of the Committee, Barr. Ugonna Ezekwem expressed the Committee’s readiness to carry out the assignment given to them by the Ministry diligently while calling on Hon. Justice Bello (Rtd.) for his support when necessary.