As part of efforts to ensure wholesome development of children in the State, Lagos State Government has organised a two-day training on Referral Authorities Diversion Community Rehabilitation Programme for some stakeholders of the State Ministry of Youth and Social Development.
Delivering the keynote address at the training held recently at Alausa, Ikeja, the Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mr. Segun Dawodu, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Aina Olugbenga Ayoola, said that the training was initiated because it gained a wider acceptability among stakeholders given the success recorded since its inception in December 2016.
He stated that the Diversion Community Rehabilitation Programme was an alternative sentence for children in conflict with the law to rehabilitate and hold them accountable for their wrongdoings in society, adding that it has the ability to be used as an intervention strategy for first-time offenders who had broken the law and found themselves in the juvenile justice system.
Dawodu further stated that because the programme offered psychosocial therapy at skill acquisition, which was in line with the youth empowerment programme in the State, the Ministry decided to seek the collaboration and support of major actors like families, Non-Governmental Organisations, Child Protection Networks, Police Prosecutors, Family Court Judges, Magistrates, Assessors and Social Welfare Officers among others.
In his remarks, Director of Social Welfare, Mr. Kayode E. Asake, said that the programme started as a Pilot with the collaboration of the Lagos State Government, UNICEF and Grace Springs Rehabilitation Home, Ilupeju, as well as Mushin, Oshodi, Kosofe and Somolu LGAs in 2016.
“It is a Community-Based Programme designed to rehabilitate children (10-17 years old) who are in conflict with the law or at risk of offending in the society. It is an alternative mechanism of sentencing as well as rehabilitating children without going to conventional Children Correctional Facilities. Upon the success of the pilot, the programme has been domesticated in Mushin Local Government Area with the support of the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development”, he stated.
The facilitators, Dr. (Mrs) Iyabo Ogunniran and Mr. Kingsley Kalu, lectured the participants, among whom were social welfare officers, legal officers and members of the Nigeria Police Force, on “Mentorship Techniques” and “Strengthening the Communication Models between Child Offenders and Officers” respectively.