Ilorin Remand Home: Parents reject released Children

*Want perpetual custody *Offenders age 18, 21, 22 *Offences include smoking, truancy, stubbornness

Many parents have refused to accept their children that were recently released from the Borstal Training Institute (BTI) in Ilorin, Kwara State.
Out of 220 inmates of the Borstal home as at last month, 213 were released by the Honourable Justice Ishaq Bello (Rtd.) led Presidential Committee on Correctional Reform and Decongestion in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Justice and in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC).
They were released because they were at the facility without court conviction.
Many of them were taken to Borstal by their parents to evade their parental responsibility on their wards for reasons raging from smoking, truancy, stubbornness, among others.
Forty-one of the inmates are children under age 18 while 61 of them are under age 21 and the remaining 111 are between age 22 and 46.
The Permanent Secretary, Kwara State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Afusat Nike Ibrahim, said some of the children released from Borstal were facing challenges because of their families were not willing to receive them after being released from the correctional facility.
She said a large number of parents have written to the ministry to request that the released children should remain with government.
The PS said the focus now is how to cater for the freed children from Borstal and ensure their welfare.
As part of efforts to ensure reintegration of the inmates back into the society, UNICEF trained social workers from the Kwara State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development on Child Protection, Reunification and Community Reintegration.
UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Mrs Nkiru Maduechesi, said this was part of the three year European Union (EU) supported Access to Justice Programme for Children on the move and other Vulnerable Children in Nigeria.
Maduechesi said the training was aimed at enhancing the capacity of social workers to enable them effectively provide case management and support community reintegration for the children.
The UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Dr Wilfred Mamah, advised that Kwara state’s child rights law 2007 should be properly utilised to protect and safeguard the interest of the children and secure a better future for them.
Dr Mamah highlighted key overriding principles of best interest of the child including right to life, survival and development, non discrimination, right to be heard and prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment. He stated that these principles are critical in caring for children.
The training was also attended by other stakeholders in the state including the officials of the BTI, the Gender Unit of Nigeria Police Force and top officials ofthe Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS).
The Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), Haliru Nababa, said NCS acknowledges the efforts of UNICEF towards ensuring that child justice in Nigeria is given adequate attention, by playing a lead role in ensuring that children in custody are treated within conditions equal to international standard.
Nababa, who was represented at the training by Assistant Comptroller General, CCG Daniel Odharo, said the training will strengthen the institutional mechanism and capacity to provide child friendly services to children in contact with justice in line with national and international legal framework.

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