The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade, on Tuesday visited the Badagry Prisons and granted amnesty to 80 underage inmates.
Justice Atilade who said she was exercising her constitutional powers decried throwing children into regular prisons instead of foster homes.
The lucky minors who regained their freedom on Tuesday were between the ages of 12 and 17.
They were reportedly arrested and charged with breach of public peace and “having no means of livelihood.”
Justice Atilade, who visited the prison on Tuesday, noted that the amnesty granted the underage inmates was in tandem with the resolution of the judiciary to protect child rights and to also decongest prisons nationwide.
Only 28 names out of the 80 minors released were sent to the Lagos State Prisons Decongestion Committee headed by Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye for a review of their cases.
But a visit to the prison showed that 90 per cent of the inmates were underage and the Chief Judge had to review more cases together with her team.
Justice Atilade, who expressed surprise at the number of minors in the Badagry Prison, condemned the imprisonment of underage at the regular prison as opposed to foster homes.
While setting the inmates free, the Chief Judge urged them to be of good behaviour and to “go and sin no more.”
“I pronounce, pursuant to the provisions of Section 1(1) of the Criminal Justice (Release from Custody) Act, 2007, as well as Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution, that you are all hereby released from custody,” the CJ said.
Also speaking during the visit, the head of the Family Court Division of the Lagos State Judiciary, Justice Yetunde Idowu, said it was against the law to keep an underage offender in prison.
The Lagos State Solicitor-General, Mr Funlola Odunlami, stressed that the state under the watch of Governor Akinwumi Ambode frowned on child abuse and would not condone child imprisonment.