250 CHILDREN SECURED SO FAR, SAYS OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER
The Director, Office of the Public Defender (OPD) under the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Olubukola Salami on Monday said “since 2016 till date, we have secured the release of 250 children.’’
She told NAN that, the children are underage, from prisons, police stations, and correctional home in the state since the last one year. About 150 of them last year and 50 this year.
Olubukola said the Office achieved this through a sponsored project by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Children in Conflict with the Law.
She said that OPD was attentive to the socio-economic rights of the poor and vulnerable groups in the society, including women and children in conflict with the law.
“When we visited some police stations and prisons, we found there underage children below the age of 18 and we all know the deplorable state of our cells and prisons.” She said
Salami said even though correctional homes were meant for children that are beyond parental control, but there, they found children who were in conflict with the law being accommodated there.
She said the mandate of the Programme on Children in Conflict with the Law is to secure the release of these underage children who have committed one offense or the other.
“The police will be empowered as stipulated in the Child Rights Law to restitute and mediate when it comes to cases concerning underage children. Detention should be the last resort.
“We would be collaborating with law firms and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to carry out continuous visits to prisons, police stations and correctional homes to provide legal aid to children in conflict with the law.”
She said they will be partnering with interested law firms and NGOs so the program can be sustained because UNICEF will not always be there,” Salami said.