Twelve underage children, who were among  the over 100 persons jailed on May 2 for minor environmental offences by the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Alausa have been released.

 The children, who were among those raided by the state governments environmental task force in Oshodi, owed their release to the provisions of the Child Rights Law, which prohibits sentencing of such children to prison.

 The Child Right Act states in Section 221(1), “No child shall be ordered to be (a) imprisoned; or (b) subjected to corporal punishment; or (c) subjected to death penalty or have the death penalty recorded against him.”

The release of the convicted children came before the expiration of the 390 days jail term they were sentenced to on May 2, 2013.

The children had spent over five months out of the 390 days imprisonment imposed on them before an intervention eventually led to their release.

A non-governmental organisation, Prisoners’ Rights Advocacy Initiative, had in June taken up the case of the over 100 inmates who were convicted by one of the presiding magistrates of the Special Offences Court, Mrs. Jadesola Adeyemi.

The group, through its Director, Mr. Ahmed Adetola-Kazeem, on June 7, petitioned the state  Chief Judge, Justice Ayotunde Phillips, and the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, alleging that there were underage children among the convicts.

It had argued that by the virtue of the Child’s Rights Law, underage children were prohibited from being sentenced to jail terms.

It also alleged that because the convicts were not given the opportunity to procure the services of a lawyer before they were convicted, the entire proceedings leading to their conviction were a violation of their rights as provided for in the constitution.