The Chairman Presidential Committee on Correctional Service Reform and Decongestion/Former Chief Justice of the FCT High Court, Hon. Justice Ishaq Bello has tasked Kaduna justice stakeholders for improved conditions of juveniles in Borstal Institutions. Bello said this at the Virtual meeting with Kaduna justice stakeholders held in Abuja on Monday 25th July, 2022.
In his keynote address, Retired Hon. Justice Bello said the committee has earlier proposed a range of interventions to reduce reoffending in juveniles to President Muhammadu Buhari. These included therapeutic measures to address the psychological causes of criminal behaviour, as well as provision
of services to prepare juveniles for reintegration into the society after release. According to him, some of the services included enrollment in academic programmes and skills acquisition such as carpentry, plumbing, shoe and soap making amongst others. The Committee had also recommended the need for Female Borstal Institutions as well.
While enumerating on the challenges facing the Borstal institution in the country, Hon Justice Bello said the committee had dispatched an assessment team to the three Borstal Institutes in the country to conduct a profile/needs and risk assessment of juveniles with minor offences and found out that many of the children were in the institutes as Beyond Parental Control (BPC). He explained that the main aim of the exercise was to determine the best rehabilitation and re-integration programme for each boy and were appropriate to determine which boys can be re-unified with their families.
He recommended the release of juveniles that have completed their terms of three years and those having health challenge should be discharged. He thanked the Kaduna State government for giving the Committee the opportunity to carry out the exercise. He hoped that the boys would be able to benefit from the intervention. The Technical Lead of the Ministry’s Assessment Team, Barrister Ugonna Ezekwem said that during the inspection, 255 students ranging from 16 to 21 years of age were admitted at the Borstal Centre in Kaduna from 2019 to 2022.
While outlining the challenges discovered during the inspection, she said, there was the need for counseling and psychological services, vocational/skill acquisition as well as toiletries and library for the students. “Not only this, the sick students should be taken to the hospital for appropriate medical attention while the students above 22 years should be transferred to the adult Correctional Centre”, she emphasised. Ezekwem stated that those who have completed their term of three years should be released to their parents.
In her opening remarks, the Acting Director, Administration of Criminal Justice Reforms/Secretary, Presidential Committee on Correctional Service Reform and Decongestion, Mrs. Leticia Ayoola-Daniels said the aim of the meeting was to organize a coordinated judicial action with the Hon. Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Kaduna State, the Chief Judge, Commissioner of Social Welfare Department, Comptroller-General of Correctional Service, the principal of Borstal Institute and Legal Aid Council to determine the situation of Juveniles in Kaduna Borstal Institution with a view of releasing those found due and qualified for release. She added that the judicial action would also provide legal and psycho social support to them for proper reintegration back into the society.
Ayoola-Daniels applauded and appreciated the dedication and commitment of all stakeholders towards the implementation of the juvenile decongestion programme. She also welcomes continuous support of development partners and donor agencies.