Recently, both the conventional and social media were awash with the news of the raiding of some correctional centres across the North. It started in Daura, Katsina State where a rehabilitation centre was cracked and dehumanised inmates freed. In Kaduna State, the executive governor of the state, Nasir el-Rufai led a combined team of security forces to Rigasa on the outskirts of the state where an old correctional centre was closed and nearly 200 tortured and emaciated adults and children were released.
This action has sent warning signals to other centres across the region which they hurriedly closed down. These stone-age correction centres aroused several questions: For how long have these centres been operating? Are the parents of these inmates aware of the condition under which their children are kept? Where was the government when all this was going on?
It would be recalled that correctional centres have been in existence for decades, especially in Northern Nigeria. However, in recent times, their mode of operation has been crude and fallen short of religious and cultural standards. The centres were established to train victims of drug abuse, mental disorders and cases of juvenile delinquency among children.
When undergoing rehabilitation, the victims are expected to learn religious and vocational education. Instead of these, the centres have derailed and converted to havens of torture. While narrating their ordeal, the freed inmates recounted how they were chained, lived in crowded rooms which they also used as convenience, amid starvation. Sometimes, they were sodomised.
Sadly, many parents believe that these so-called correctional centres are the solution to their wards misbehaviour. The government should continue to wield the big stick against these unlicensed rehabilitation centres.
Ibrahim Mustapha, Pambegua, Kaduna State