In view of the above, the significance of children or youths in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. The reason being that, Nigeria is the most populous sub-Saharan country predominantly youthful population . Nevertheless, many of its children face a life of inadequate educational opportunities and poor physical and mental health. In spite of the enormous natural endowment of the country, development has been slow due to poor public management and serious crisis of governance resulting in decaying infrastructure, stagnant economy, and corruption and widespread poverty. A life of want, family instability, exposure to physical, sexual and emotional abuse has been associated with delinquent behaviour among children, and so a large number of Nigerian children have come in contact with the justice system .
It is a well acknowledged fact that, children or young person forms an integral part of any society and are regarded as special gifts from God which are to be protected, guided and guarded. It suffice to say that children constitute one of the most vulnerable and powerless members of the society and they require gentle or careful handling and there must be special attention in the protection and promotion of their interests, welfare and rights. At the seventh Congress, the United Nations approved the Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice in 1985 . In the Preamble, it is stated that the United Nations recognises:
That the young person, owing to their early stage of human development, requires particular care and assistance with regard to physical, mental and social development and requires legal protection in conditions of peace, freedom, dignity and security.
The Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child at the regional level reiterated or restated this above stated Preamble. Nigeria being a state member to the African Charter and United Nations domesticated it as Child Rights Act and .ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Act provides comprehensive and detailed informations on the treatment of juvenile offenders. However, despite the domestication and ratification at the federal level, most Nigerian States that have domesticated the Child’s Rights Act, do not strictly comply with the provisions on the treatment of juvenile offenders. There are evidences to the effect that rights of the juveniles have been abused and violated on many occasions. It is beyond debate that the foregoing anomaly is one of the world’s social problems which has attracted serious concerns.
Generally, this research aimed at taking a holistic look at or examined the Juvenile Justice Administration in Nigeria with particular focus or scope on Benue State, Nigeria. Hence the study examines the rights of children in penitentiaries adopting Benue State, Nigeria as a case study. In doing so, this study examines the legal and institutional framework of the Juvenile justice Administration in Benue State, Nigeria as well as the abuse of some of the rights of juveniles in penitentiaries including the inherent effects of the abuse. The study considers the international and national responses to the abuse of children in penitentiaries with the ultimate purpose of proffering recommendations at the end of this research.