A total of 707 juveniles (minors) are currently held across three borstal centres in the country over alleged offences ranging from rape, cultism, drug abuse and weapon carrying. Other social vices that led them to the borstal centres include vandalism, examination malpractice and truancy.
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) categorises juvenile delinquency as a crime linked to a child below the consenting age of 18 years.
The three designated centres for holding minors found to have been involved in juvenile delinquencies are Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital; Ilorin, Kwara State as well as Kaduna.
Findings by New Telegraph showed that the Kaduna borstal centre has 231 children, Abeokuta is peopled with 318, while Ilorin has 158. A senior security official, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said during their stay at the centres, the children are taken through reformation sessions, which help to redirect their fragile existence.
He said: “You may wish to know that there are only three borstal centres in this country – one in Ilorin, another in Kaduna and Abeokuta. “As children, the major crimes that led to the temporary restriction of their freedom include, but not limited to cultism, rape, truancy, carrying of weapons and so on. “What is done during the short period they are often held is to get psychologists and other child experts to take them through remoulding sessions.
“These sessions help to rehabilitate, reshape as well as reform their lives, considering the danger associated, for example, with drug abuse at those tender ages.
“So, additional work is put in the rehabilitation of the little over 700 children so as to reclaim them from a lifestyle that would ordinarily have led them to destruction in the long run.
“Apart from saving their future, the system is also conscious of the fact that if not checked at that age, the future of the society at large will be in jeopardy.”