The Presidential Committee on Correctional Facility Reform and Decongestion has released 122 children from the Borstal Training Institute, Ilorin, and awarded scholarships to two, for exceptional performance in WAEC.
Modupe Ogundoro, Deputy Director of Information, Federal Ministry of Justice, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.
Ms Ogundoro said the committee, led by its chairman, a former chief judge of the FCT High Court, Ishaq Bello, facilitated the release of the children when the committee visited the borstal.
The main purpose was to lead a technical team to conduct an on-the-spot assessment of the condition of the children in the facility.
In collaboration with UNODC and UNICEF, the Federal Ministry of Justice deployed a technical team of 10 persons to the Ilorin borstal, where they assessed 225 inmates.
The chairman frowned at the facility’s conditions and welfare of the children while noting that it is congested due to non-compliance to laid-down entry qualifications.
He said the committee observed discrepancies in the admission of the children, which defeated the purpose for its establishment.
“The committee found out that the institute also houses underage children and adults, among whom were secondary school students, undergraduates and graduates,” stated Mr Bello. “The qualifying age for admission is 16- 21 years. Anybody above 24 years has outgrown his/her stay and, therefore, is not fit for the institute. This is a breach of the extant law establishing the institute.”
Mr Bello reminded them that the facility was established as a reformation and rehabilitation centre to accommodate children between 16 and 21.
He noted that most of the children were brought to the facility by their parents on various charges such as truancy, theft, drunkenness, drug addiction, and those who were beyond parental control.
“Out of the children released, two, who performed excellently in their WAEC examinations, were encouraged with scholarship awards to tertiary institutions by the Ministry of Justice,” the committee chairman revealed. “Considerations for release were given to the underaged, the overaged and those with threatening health challenges.”
The acting Director, Administration of Criminal Justice and Reform, the committee’s secretary, Leticia Ayoola-Daniels, added that the visit would provide psychological support to the juveniles for proper reintegration into society when released.