By Musa Adamu and Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Senate yesterday through a resolution forbade Nigeria Prisons Service from incarcerating children below the age of 16 in the same cell with adults.
Ruling on a motion brought by Sen. Victor Umeh (APGA, Anambra) on the confinement of under age and adult offenders in the same prison cell, the Senate also resolved to invite the Comptroller General of Prisons to brief it on the state of minors in Nigerian Prisons.
Moving the motion, Sen Umeh said his motion was informed by a publication in a national daily where the sorry state of Nigerian children languishing in the Prisons across the country was highlighted.
He further said his motion was to awaken the conscience of Nigerians to do the needful and stop condoning such acts.
He said children who ought to have been under the care of the government were being wasted in Prisons for flimsy and sometimes, unsubstantiated reason.
He said because of failure of government children take to the street early in life to fend for themselves and their parents only to be rounded up by police.
Sen Umeh also condemned a situation “where a girl get pregnant in prison, give birth therein and the child getting raised in the prison.
“Why should a child suffer for the sin of the mother? Why should the child be raised in prison even when he or she has no hands in what took the mother to the prison? If a lady gets pregnant in prison it is enough reason to remove her from the prison to get all the necessary attention needed by a pregnant mother. After the birth, the child should be taken away if the offence of the mother is such a grave one.”
On his prayers, Sen Umeh called on government to make quality education compulsory and free for the children.
He also said that no minor should be arraigned in Court of law without representation and that Juvenile offenders should be sent to correctional homes instead of the adult Prisons to protect them from abuse.
He further called on government to build more reform homes in order to reform any erring child instead of punishing him.