Failed parenting leading kids to correctional homes –Adetola-Kazeem

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]he Director, Prisoners’ Rights Advocacy Initiative, Mr Ahmed Adetola-Kazeem, has said failed parenting is the reason majority of the children in borstal homes or correctional centres ended up there.

He said PRAI’s engagements, under its Juvenile Justice Support Programme, had shown that the borstal homes abound in raw talents and brilliant minds waiting to be harnessed.

Adetola-Kazeem said with the right help, the children, considered errant today, would turn around to become responsible citizens, making positive contributions to the society.

He spoke with The PUNCH at the weekend during PRAI’s mentoring visit to the Special Correctional Centre for Boys, Oregun and the Children Correctional Centre for Girls, Idi-Araba, Lagos.

The Saturday visit to borstal homes in Lagos came a week after PRAI visited the Nigeria Correctional Service, Borstal Institution, Adigbe, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

The programme featured a motivation speaking session with two Mandela Washington fellows, Onyedikachi Ekwerike and Amaka Ijiko, who shared their grass-to-grass stories with the boys and girls to inspire them. The children themselves made group presentations on topics ranging from sexual abuse to cultism during a speaking competition.

During a panel discussion, the children were enlightened on how to discover their talents and commercialise same.

The children, who also had an indoors games session, were fed by PRAI during the visit.

Speaking on the essence of the initiative, Adetola-Kazeem said, “In the past, PRAI worked with adult inmates in the conventional correctional centres but during a chance visit to a borstal institution I realised that the younger ones actually need us more because many of them are here because of the failings of their parents and the society at large.

“How do we now ensure that they get out of here as better persons and do not return to crimes? The essence is to give them an orientation that ensures a crime-free future.

“From our interactions in the borstal institutions that we have visited, we saw that there are lot of talents that need to be harnessed and what we have seen here today (Saturday) has reconfirmed that fact. The children have a bright future ahead of them but they need people to support them.”

On what parents and society could do better to raise responsible children, Adetola-Kazeem said, “Everybody can’t be rich but everybody can be responsible. We need more responsible parents that understand that children need to be properly guided.

“A parent that leaves home at 4am and returns at 11pm, what kind of children are they expected to raise? Children that are being taught through television and by peers or by parents who engage in vices, what kind of children do you think they will turn out to be? So, it is a failing of perenting and these children identified this fact during a speaking competition we organised for them.

“But irrespective of what their parents have done, how do we ensure that they live responsible lives? What support can we give as members of the society to ensure that they live as responsible members of the society and that is the gap we are trying to fill.”

The Principal, Special Correctional Centre for Boys, Oregun, Mr Salau Wasiu, said the centre was open to collaboration with PRAI and other like-minded institutions as “it will go a long way in shaping the lives of the children.”

Wasiu said, “In this place, we have raw talents that need to be harnessed because most of these children are children of circumstance. Their journey leading here may not be their fault; often it is a result of broken homes. Whether we like it or not, they are part of the future of this country and which is why we must help them.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]


Group sues Fed Govt over custodial centre’s congestion

A non-governmental organisation, the Prisoners’ Rights Advocacy Initiative (PRAI), has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to compel the Federal Government to build more custodial centres in Lagos.

It is praying for a declaration that the overcrowded state of the Ikoyi Medium Security Custodial Centre, where some inmates were electrocuted, is unconstitutional.

According to PRAI, congestion violates the inmates’ fundamental right to freedom from degrading treatment guaranteed by Section 34(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The group said the Ikoyi Medium Security Custodial Centre was built in 1955 to accommodate 800 inmates, but held about 3,113 inmates as at December 3.

The Federal Government, Attorney-General of the Federation, Minister of Interior, Nigerian Correctional Service Controller-General, Lagos State Controller, Lagos Attorney-General and the Chief Judge of Lagos are the respondents.

The plaintiff said the overcrowding also violates Section 12(8) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019, which prohibits keeping inmates in a custodial centre that has exceeded its capacity.

PRAI said the congestion breaches the Federal Government’s duties under Rules 1, 12 and 13 the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners (as revised in 2015) to maintain the minimum standard of accommodation of inmates, as well other statutes.

PRAI is seeking “a declaration that the arrest and continued remand, without proper arraignment and trial in a court of competent jurisdiction, of all inmates as of the day of judgment in this application, who have been in custody beyond the maximum imprisonment terms of the respective offences they have been charged is unlawful and unconstitutional as it violates their fundamental right to personal liberty and freedom of movement as guaranteed by Sections 35(1)(f) and 41 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended)”.

It wants the court to order the release of all such inmates.

PRAI urged the court to hold that the dearth of functional basic amenities, including vocational and recreational centres, health facilities, as well as failure to keep safe and conducive custody of inmates, which resulted in the electrocution incident, all breach the inmates’ rights.

PRAI sought an order compelling the Federal Government to keep the Ikoyi Medium Security Custodial Centre in the good shape by providing the necessary vocational, educational, recreational health facilities.

It further prayed the court to order the Federal Government to build more correctional facilities in the Lagos within 12 months from the date judgment is delivered.

The suit has been assigned to Justice Mohammed Liman and is fixed for January 13.

PRAI, in a December 11 letter to the Minister of Interior Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, called for a thorough investigation of the Ikoyi Custodial Centre electrocution incident.

It urged the Federal Government to pay at least N10million compensation to the verified next of kin.

At least five inmates were electrocuted at the centre last December 2; about 10 others were injured.

PRAI, through its Executive Director Ahmed Adetola-Kazeem, commended the minister for visiting the scene to personally assess the situation, and to suspend some officers to aid the investigation.

The non-governmental organisation, which advocates for prisoners’ rights, said the investigative findings should be made public.

It called for the sanctioning of those found culpable, to serve as a deterrent to others and to forestall a re-occurrence.

PRAI further urged the Federal Government to “disclose the identity of all the deceased and injured victims”.

It added: “This will ensure transparency and proper representation for those of them who may be lacking one at the moment.”

PRAI urged the Federal Government to “pay adequate compensation to families of the deceased inmates and those injured”.

“Nothing less than N10 million should be paid to verified next of kin of the deceased inmates as compensation for the loss of their loved ones.

“We shall be recommending payment of at least N3milion to the injured depending on the gravity of the injury.

“The injured should also be unconditionally released upon consideration of the offence they have been alleged to have committed and the gravity of the injury sustained.”