Eventually I was allowed to go in to see Mr.Badru, the officer in charge of the Juvenile Remand Home, Ibadan. Sitting across his table he asked “so, who are you?” I said “I am Funmi Omisope”. He was still looking at me as if I had not said anything significant then I added “I am a student of university of Ibadan” then he went “oh! UI, you people are amazing,” he brought out his books and started showing me different things some students and the school management donated to the home at one point or the other. I was there smiling like yah, that’s how good we are. Long story short, I became a part of the home that very moment.
I was taken round the home and then I saw beyond what I bargained for. First thing I realised was the fact that the kids were referred to as inmate including the babies. Second thing was that they were all in uniform with a number on them and some of them were actually on handcuffs and leg chains. I couldn’t keep it again so I asked who the kids are and where they are from? Mr.Badru was nice enough to provide answers to my curiosity. He told me the kids at the home falls under 3 categories;
First: Underage armed robbers that couldn’t be charged to maximum prison for they are below 18 years of age.
Secondly: Found Children. Lost kids sleeping in stores, mostly children bus conductors sleeping in rundown buildings and all. And some that ran away from home for one reason or the other. They got raided at night and brought to the home by the police after which they show cased them on the local television for few weeks and if nobody comes to claim them, the home becomes their permanent home!
Thirdly, disobedient kids brought by their parents to be well trained. I shook my head for such parents.
Finally, I was taken to their dormitory. To be sincere calling it dormitory was an error for it ought to be named PRISON. Jesus Chris! The windows were few and small and very high with an open container in the room where the kids pass their waste at night for the room is always under lock and key from outside. Two rooms, one for the boys and the other for the girls.
My hands were stocked to my chest where I folded them then Mr.Badru looked at me with a smile and said we will be glad to give you a room in the home whenever you feel like passing the night with us. That very moment, I knew it was time for me to leave! I had seen enough. I was in my first year in the university at this time.
Let’s meet here same time next week when I will be letting it all out. Till then, keep keeping on. You’ll soon get there.