In its continuous search for Security and Justice Reform programmes, the Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare (PRAWA), a non-governmental organisation supported by foreign and Commonwealth office, has saved Ernest, a 19-year-old teenager from continuous detention in Kirikiri medium prison.
Ernest who was accused of causing the loss of a phone worth N45,000 during a fight that ensued after an argument with a driver, has been discharged and released from prison custody by an Ejigbo Magistrate court in Lagos, after former Executive Secretary of PRAWA, Dr. Uju Agomoh, paid a compensation of N25,000 to the complainant.
After speaking with the boyâ€™s mother, the consultant for PRAWA on the PRP pro bono project, Ms. Chinelo Uchendu, learnt that the complainant is ready to withdraw the case if compensated with a reasonable sum while the lawyer that stood up for the boy during his first arraignment demanded N50,000 each for two sureties needed for his bail.
According to the mother of the boy, the boy was being held because the family cannot afford to pay for the phone which was misplaced during the fight as the complainant said he would only withdraw the case when paid a compensation.
PRAWA successfully secured a lawyer from Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (LACON) to attend the next court sitting, apart from taking the responsibility to pay the complainant his compensation in order to set the boy free.
Uchendu further advised the mother of the mis boy to warn him against future behavior. Speaking on the intervention, former Executive Director of PRAWA, Agomoh said: â€œThe cost of his remand in prison: food, accommodation, infrastructure, medicals and the social, psychological and economic impact on the prisoner, his family and relations is worth more important than the cost of the phone.â€
Also, most importantly the effect of â€˜criminalisationâ€™ of the boy due to possibility of coming in contact with handened criminals in prison may make an irredeemable impact in the life of the boy.â€
Agomoh said the boy should be interviewed and counseled apart from giving him psychological support to ensure a good pathway for the boy in his future behavior.
The Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Prison Service (NPS), Francis Enobore, thanked PRAWA for their anticipated help and urged that a written promise should be extracted from the boy and his mother to serve as internal control mechanism and also deter would-be miscreants from taking pro bono services and financial assistance for granted.