A traditional ruler has handed three homeless boys aged 11, 12 and 14 years to the Ogun State government for their alleged involvement in armed robbery and other social vices in his community.
The traditional ruler of Owode-Egba community in Obafemi-Owode local government area of the state, Kolawole Sowemimo, said he handed the boys to the government after the police said they do not handle complaints against minors.
Olumide Sotubo, the Director of Social Welfare at the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, told PREMIUM TIMES that the youngsters would be arraigned before a family court in Abeokuta, the state capital.
Mr. Sotubo said the kids had confessed to involvement in armed robbery, house breaking, smoking of Indian hemp and petty stealing.
He said all of them were from broken homes, with one identified as the son of a policeman whose whereabouts were unknown.
“The suspects will be charged at the family court ahead of their transfer to the Juvenile Correctional Home in Asero, Abeokuta,” Mr. Sotubo said.
The director explained that the state government would carry out rehabilitation of the boys at the correctional home with a view to later reintegrating them in society.
He also said the authorities would try to locate their families, stressing that the state government has zero tolerance for school-age children being out of school .
The traditional ruler alleged that the boys were usually engaged as pathfinders during operations by criminal gangs and had become a thorn in the side of Owode-Egba community.
Mr. Sowemimo said they were homeless and usually slept in shanties and Indian hemp joints in the community.
”As a father, I am worried about the future of these kids. The case was reported to the police in Owode but they could not be detained because of their ages, so I had to take them to the palace with the aim to rehabilitate them,” the monarch said.
“After three days in the palace, I resolved to hand them over to the Ministry of Social Welfare and Women Affairs. As you can see them and hear from their confessions, they need total rehabilitation,” the traditional ruler said.
He expressed worry over incessant criminal activities in his domain and its environs, particularly with the new trend of kids serving as pathfinders for robbery gangs.
“We cannot sleep with our two eyes closed again in Owode-Egba. We are worried about this new dimension of kids at ages 11, 12 and 14 turning into armed bandits. One of them even claimed he wanted to be like Sina Rambo, the dare-devil armed robber”.
Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES, the kids admitted to addiction to Indian hemp and belonging to a robbery gang.
The boys said their gang leader, who was on the run, armed them with knives and always took them out for robbery operations.
They said in most of their operations, they were made to scale security fences and hide within premises to study and give signals to their leaders on when to strike.
“I am called Sina Rambo because people see me as a replica of Sina Rambo,” one of them said. “I smoke Indian hemp with my two other colleagues.”
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