523 Children Wasting In Anambra Prisons – Rights Commission
Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka, NIGERIA
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said that about 523 children are detained in various prisons in Anambra State.
Anambra State Coordinator of NHRC, Mrs Nkechi Ugwuanyi, who made the disclosure at the Onitsha prisons during an interface with some juvenile inmates, said some of them would be freed.
Describing the number as very high, Ugwuanyi said, their visit was in commemoration of the African “Pre-Trial” Day 2019 themed: “Decriminalisation of Petty and Minor Offences.”
Noting that the focus was to gather details on the inmates whose offences fell within the classification, she said that such cases involved about 523 inmates in Awka and Onitsha prisons.
She said: “It’s on account of these offences that NHRC is propelled to undertake these visits. The focus is to gather details on the inmates, whose alleged offences fall within the classification.
“This is to enable us to make appropriate interventions toward the decongestion of prisons through advocacy for decongestion through decriminalisation of petty or minor offences.”
She, however, assured that inmates whose cases had been compiled would “have reasons to smile at the end of the exercise.”
She further said: “Decriminalisation of petty offences are expected to reduce the challenges that pre-trial detention poses on the prison system and society. We encourage stakeholders to effect the law, policy and practice of reforms.”
Earlier, the Deputy Controller of Onitsha Prisons, Mr Jerry Mazi, had called for alternative punishment for juveniles who committed offences rather than remanding them in prison custody.
He recommended the construction of what he called “Correctional Centres” with facilities for erring juveniles in the South-East as had been done in some parts of the country so as to keep them away from adults in prisons.
Mazi commended churches and public-spirited individuals whom he said had been assisting in the provision of welfare needs of no fewer than 1,456 inmates of the Onitsha prison.
with The Sun Nigeria