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RoLAC: MDAs advocate speedy establishment of children correctional centres in Anambra

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By Gabriel Chy Alonta

Ministries, Departments & Agencies (MDA’s) in Anambra State, on Wednesday March 23, 2022, called for speedy establishment of children correctional centres across the three senatorial zones of the state.

The MDA’s stakeholders made the call in Awka, the Anambra state capital, during a one-day validation of an assessment report on the establishment of a children correctional centre. The exercise was organized by the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) programme.

The validation exercise, Orient Daily gathered, was aimed at developing and implementing a minimum standard state guidelines and requirements to improve the functionality of a children correctional centre. The assessment also includes support for advocacy activities to influence stakeholders to take actions aimed at achieving the project. 

Taking the participants on the assessment report, RoLAC consultant, Dr. Ifediorah Orakwe, regretted that 16 years after the enactment and domestication of the Child Rights Act, only 25 states of the federation had adopted it. He decried that those states adopted it just to be seen to be up to speed, not because they want to put the law in place. This, he said, was dragging the speedy and seamless implementation of the law, which he described as both progressive and comprehensive.

He said despite the domestication of the law in 2003 to promote the rights and welfare of Nigerian children, Anambra State still delays in establishing a correctional centre. He said such development would lead to a harvest of criminals in the years to come, and called for the immediate establishment of three children correctional centres in each of the three senatorial zones of the state.

According to him, the primary aim of the Child Rights Act is to provide a spectrum of institutional care which a society should put in place if it cares for the future of the children born in such society.

“Any society that faithfully sets up the relevant institutions to take care of the children will not fail to evolve into a society of relevant strength and growth. But our interest here is limited to the issues of children in criminal justice mechanisms as provided by the law.

“The Child Rights Act (CRA) made very copious provisions for the professional treatment of children and young persons who come into conflict with the law. In fact, the CRA set out the children justice administration which runs from the police to the court and finally, the correctional centres are professional treatment of deviant children”, he explained. 

In a remark, the solicitor-general and permanent secretary, Ministry of Justice, Ngozi Iwuono, encouraged participants to be persistent, committed and to support the project, which, she said, was in line with the welfare of children.

Also, the deputy chief registry (DCR) Inspectorate, Mrs. Vivian Udedike, who represented the Chief Judge of Anambra State, Hon. Justice O. M. Anyachebelu, lamented the upsurge in criminality, and said without a concerted effort Anambra State will not get rid of criminality, even as he called for speedy completion of children correctional centre in the state. 

The Co-chairman, Anambra State Child’s Rights Implementation Committee (ASCRIC), Hope Nkiru Okoye, had, in a remark, reinstated the need for children’s correctional/rehabilitation centre to aid the implementation of the Child Rights Law 2004 of Anambra state, noting that the law relates to children in conflict with the law. According to her, if we fail to remove these children away and rehabilitate them, we will end up grooming and recycling hardened criminals which will create more serious security issues in the state.

“For instance, in a case of a 10-years boy who steals and sells other children in collaboration with his siblings and mother, if such a child is kept with adult criminals in adult correctional institutions, it will not be for the best interest of the child and the state, but if rehabilitated in children correctional centre, we will make something good out of them that will also be beneficial to society”, she posited.

Justice Pete Obiorah, had also in a remark, expressed optimism that the new administration in the state led by Prof. Charles Soludo, would take the implementation of laws affecting children seriously, while reassuring his commitment to the project.

Earlier, Anambra State RoLAC Coordinator, Mrs. Josephine Onah, said the persistent delay in establishing children correctional centre poses a security threat to the state, and stressed the need to hasten the implementation of the Child Rights Law. She traced the history of the law in the state, and commended the willingness of communities to welcome such projects.

High point of the one-day validation exercise was unanimous call by participants to expedite action on the establishment of the first correctional centre at Mbara Izo Umunze Square, in Umunze, Orumba South local government area of Anambra state. 

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