Challenges and prospects of the juvenile justice administration in South East Nigeria
Juvenile justice administration in Nigeria is weak and has been given very little priority, despite Nigeria being signatory to the major international instruments relevant to the administration of juvenile justice. This is attributable to the history of the penal system of Nigeria, with laws guiding juvenile justice administration having been entrenched by the British colonial master, whose philosophy in justice required a repressive legal system, aimed at deterring and punishing offenders to avoid interference with colonial interests. Reformation of such offenders even if they were juveniles, was the least of the colonial master’s worries. The Children and Young Persons Act, the major piece of legislation dealing with matters affecting children and young persons in Nigeria first enacted in 1943 did not reflect the guidelines in the international conventions and standards for treatment of juvenile offenders. Children in conflict with the law were thus often tried like adults. Recent reforms have culminated in the enactment of the Child Rights Act, 2003, which has been domesticated as a State law by some South Eastern States. However, a lot is still lacking in terms of implementation. As a result of poverty and other conditions which affect particularly the South Eastern States, administration of juvenile justice still needs further reforms to meet with internationally accepted standards.
Key words: juvenile, justice, administration, standards, reforms, South East Nigeria