The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, says the Borstal Institutions and Remand Centres Act review is in conformity with Nigeria’s Constitution.
Malami said this at a one-day Stakeholders Roundtable session tagged ‘ Review of the Borstal Institutions and Remand Centres Act LFN 2004’ on Tuesday in Abuja.
The minister was represented by Mrs Jedy-Agba, the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice.
He said the objectives of the review were to bring the provisions of the Act in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the Child Rights Act, 2003, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, as well as the Correctional Services Act of 2019.
“The second objective of the review is to reflect current realities in terms of administrative structures and operational realities in present day Nigeria.
“It is also to bring the Borstal Act in line with international practices in a way that it will align with the best interest of the child requirements under the United Nation’s Child’s Right Convention.
” The necessity for the review became even more compelling in view of the ongoing developments regarding our children entangled in acts of terrorist activities.”
According to him, the final draft bill, which will emerge from the joint deliberations at the session would be presented to the President for onward transmission to the National Assembly.
Also, Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola in his speech, tasked stakeholders on the need to explore innovative ways of funding borstal institutions in the country.
He said that creating more Borstal centre was good but more important was the means to sustain them.
“I have always been perturbed by the deplorable state of the bolster institutions vis – a – vis the constitutional rights of the children in custody and their rights as contained in the Child Rights Act.
“They include the administration of the correctional institutions, trainings, skill acquisition and educational programmes, early release and after – care re- integration programmes.
“Having being exposed of the challenge of funding at the federal level we must look for creative measures to run these borstal institutions”.
He said the country is already challenged to run the conventional correctional facilities for adults.
“As beautiful as the provisions here are, am worried about adequate funding.
“Though the national assembly has proposed an amendment to the constitution that will allow states to have their own penitentiaries, funding is critical in getting through with what we are talking about,” he said.
He also called on the justice ministry to look into ways of decongesting the correctional centres across the country, adding that most inmates were people that had no business being in prisons.
Mr Haliru Banana, the Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service, in his good will message said that with the draft document, the management of Borstal would be better equipped to carryout their daily activities more effectively and efficiently.
“I am aware that a lot of hard work have been put in place to develop this draft, owing to this, I want to sincerely appreciate the stakeholders who have magnanimously worked towards the actualization of this draft document.
Also Speaking at the session, Mrs Leticia Ayoola-Daniels, Director Administration of Criminal Justice and Reform Department, said most environments in the Borstal centres were incapable of the reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of children.
“In light of the above, the urgent need to review the law cannot be over emphasised, considering that Nigeria is witnessing an alarming increase of youth restiveness, radicalisation and drugs related crimes.
“Introducing a system that helps prevent youth re-offending, recidivism and restiveness is urgently required to channel their energies towards the right path for the development and socio-economic and political stability of Nigeria.
” We need an Institution with capacity for the reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of our children. It is on this note that the review of the Borstal Institutions and Remand Centres Act has become expedient and a step in the right direction,” Daniels said. (NAN)