16 years old Daniel Monday Akpan was taken into custody by men of the Nigerian police on the 2nd of September 2019 when the police carried out a mass arrest in his neighborhood after a robbery incidence.
Monday akpan remembers taking walk on his street when he noticed people running in multiple directions amidst multiple gunshots. In the midst of this, police where picking up as many people they could lay their hands on.
Unfortunately Daniel Akpan finds himself in the midst of the chaos and as such was taken into custody by police officers.
Akpan who didn’t know what was going on was forced at gun point to admit to being part of the robbery. He did inform the officers who interrogated him that he was only 16 but they would rather record his age to be 18 so that he could be detained and tried as an adult.
Daniel describes his experience in an adult detention facility as Horrible “They did not beat us. But we were not treated well. They would not let us go outside. We had time to roam the yard, but prison officials demanded bribes before they would let you move outside within the prison walls. The food was terrible,” he said.
But on 6 May 2020, following efforts by UNICEF, he was suddenly released. Daniel Akapan was alongside twenty-five other children locked up in correctional facilities in Cross River State was freed and allowed to go home in an attempt to decongest all correctional facilities in the country, due to the need to put in place physical distancing measures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
UNICEF, in collaboration with UNODC and partners, had been working for the release of children locked-up with adults in correctional facilities and mostly in pre-trial for years.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and in line with measures to decongest correctional facilities by federal and state authorities,UNICEF, UNODC and the Basic Rights Counsel Initiative (BRCI) where presented with an opportunity to heighten their advocacy to get children released from correctional facilities.