His eyes were weak and pale, after spending more than two weeks at the Kirikiri medium prison where hardened criminals who commit murder, armed robbery are remanded.
Ifesinachi John, a 14year-old from Ebonyi State, was convicted and sentenced to three months in kirikiri medium prison with hard labour, by a magistrate court in Ogba. Lagos State, because he could not pay a fine of N10,000..
Ifesinachi had to hawk handkerchief for survival, the harsh economic situation in the country, his guardian could not afford to send him to school.
He was caught alongside with Omotosho Seyi, 15, Emma Ezenwa, 14, Musa Yusuf, 15, Azeez Favour, 16, Shittu Sodiq, 16, among others.
It was a sorry sighton Friday at the Kirikiri medium prison, when old Hausas almajiris were remanded for roaming the streets of Lagos, begging for alms.
They were taken by the mobile court to a Magistrate Court in Ogba where they are convicted and sentenced to three months in prison with hard labour as they were unable to pay a fine of N10,000.
Barrister Mariam Chinyere Njoku, a Legal Aid Council of Nigeria staff, said her attention was drawn to this tettible anomaly in the state, when the Lagos State University commissioned a legal clinic.
The Deputy Controller of Prison was there and he called the attention of stakeholders represented at the event, the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Office of the Public Defender, etc. to check the rate at which minors are sent to the Kirikiri prison everyday.
According to Mrs. Njoku, the Kirikiri is not a place to sentence a minor to, adding that not less than 20 minors are sent to the Kurikiri prison on a daily basis.
“These elderly Hausa almajiris are not criminals. For the fact that they take to the streets to beg and sell doesn’t make them criminals.
Mrs Njoku also emphadized the fact that “sentencing the child to Kirikiri prison is not the solution because when these minors come out of the prison, they would haved learnt negative vices which would not be healthy for the society.The best bet is for the magistrate to allow these minors give community service under strict supervision”.
“I wouldn’t know if the Lagos State government is aware of this sentencing of minor to Kirikiri prison or if Chief f Judge of the state is aware.. Minors should not be thrown to prison. A boy between age 13 and 14 should be in school The parent of the minors should be made to pay not the kids or be sent to prison, Its guardian that sends them to hawk”, Mrs. Njoku said.
The severe hardship in the country makes kids drop out of schools as their parents or guardian cannot afgird to send them to school.
Mrs. Njoku advised government to make provision for these ones by creating a platform for them to hawk their goods.
For a better society