Sadly, many of the children are from poor homes. While their parents continued to find means of perfecting their bail conditions, the children continued to rot in jail.
Speaking with Sunday Tribune, one of the prison inmates, a 14-year-old boy, Samuel (pseudo name) said that he was picked up by a task force for hawking beef sausage, popularly known as Gala.
“I am from the East. I came to stay with my distant relative. I was made to start hawking. My people do not know that I am here,” he said adding: “I want to go back home.”
Another teenager who had open sores all over him, exposed to Sunday Tribune his private parts and with tears in his eyes, said: “Aunty look, my tin don finish. To piss dey pain me. E dey scratch me and the wound no gree go.”
Looking closely one could see that his private parts, covered in thick black scabs oozing out yellow pus, had been eaten up by a severe case of scabies popularly known as ‘krawkraw.’ The insides of his buttocks were also not spared.
Another boy, not more than 13 years of age cried out in a loud voice: “E joo, ara n ni mi. E saanu mi,” meaning “please I am in pains. Please have mercy on me.”
Baring her mind, Honorable Funmi Tejuosho, a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly who accompanied the CJ stated that the Lagos State Government was not aware of the abnormality.
“A prison is not a place for a child. Their minds are young and still in the formative stage. I am going to carry put this message back to the governor that something urgent has to be done.
“The issue of keeping children in prison is condemnable in its totality. These are the leaders of tomorrow. This is a sad situation that should not be.
“On no condition should a child, below 18 years, be kept in prison either on conviction and awaiting trial.
“Please anytime a child is brought here, send a message to either the office of the Public defender or the High Court.
“Children who commit an offence are not meant to be kept in prison but in correctional facilities for reformation,” Tejuosho said.
While speaking, Deputy Comptroller, Oyeniran Famuwagun, informed the Lagos CJ that the Badagry prison was built to hold 320 inmates but is currently occupied by 584 inmates.
“The prison has a population of 584 inmates; with 389 convicted male and 195 awaiting trial males, alongside 70 prison staff members.
“The rapid increase in the population is, often times, as a result of the existing old vehicles that can no longer convey them to court for trial, coupled with delayed administration of justice that extends their stay.
“ My lady, during your last visit on November 3, 2016 we complained about insufficient water supply and adequate medical facilities to aid in the treatment of some inmates that suffer severe injuries while being arrested by security agencies. We also want you to look into the case of under-aged children who are serving prison terms here,” he said.
Looking at the conditions of the children, the CJ demanded the warrant of arrest of the underaged inmates. It was a laborious task sorting through the piles of paperwork to determine who gets to stay and who gets to leave.
At the end of the day, 80 underaged inmates were set free. While they jubilated, the other children wailed loudly, tears and mucus rolling down their sad faces.
As they continued to wail, right in their presence prison officials brought packs of meat pie and cans of malt, distributing them to the August visitors. All of the visitors decided not to eat the snacks and gave them to the children who rushed for the food, clawing and fighting themselves.
The stronger ones had the upper hand, forcibly pushed the weaker ones aside and crammed the snacks in their mouths. They guzzled the malt drink with relish as the weaker ones licked the drops that dropped on the floor.
In the midst of the confusion a boy fell and remained immobile on the dusty ground, too weak to move.
Sitting outside the chapel on a cemented slab was a boy of about sixteen. He was covered in sores from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. He was literally in a state of decay while still alive. He had been abandoned to his fate, the only company he had were flies. They perched in him in droves feasting on the open sores.
“Help me,” he said in a feeble voice wracked with hunger.
“Don’t mind him,” a prison warder said, “He has already been convicted.”
“Please no pictures,” another warder said, gently but firmly.
Even without prison officials’ warnings, no pictures could have been taken. All visitors had been made to surrender their phones and other electronic devices at the gate. However, it would take a long time to wipe out the pictures already etched in the visitors’ ‘human memory cards.’ALSO READ : GOOD MEN ARE USUALLY POOR MEN
Written by Ayomide Odekanyan