The UK is to pay for a new wing in a Lagos prison to help expedite the transfer of Nigerian offenders from British jails. Up to £700,000 will be spent on a 112-bed annex in Kiri Kiri prison in the country’s largest city.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it would enable eligible Nigerian inmates serving time in the UK to return home to complete their sentences.
According to Ministry of Justice figures, there were 320 Nigerian prisoners in British jails at the end of 2016, accounting for 3% of the foreign prisoner population.
The facility is to be built as part of a compulsory prisoner transfer agreement signed in 2014 between the UK and Nigeria. It means citizens of one who commit crimes in the other will serve sentences in their homeland.
But poor conditions in some prisons overseas have created a legal barrier to returning foreigners convicted in the UK.
“The Government believes that wherever possible foreign nationals should serve their sentences in their own country,” a Foreign Office spokesperson said.
“Helping Nigeria to improve its prison conditions and increase prison capacity will enable us to transfer more prisoners to Nigeria, which will in turn free up prison places in the UK.”
Deals to transfer prisoners in UK jails to their countries of origin have been made with Albania, Rwanda, Jamaica and Libya, and well as Nigeria.
In 2015 the government pitched an ambitious £25m project to build a 1,500 bed prison in Jamaica, with the aim of sending more than 300 Jamaican inmates with sentences of more than four years there.
But the Jamaican government rejected the deal, saying the offer was not beneficial to Jamaica and did not cover the prison’s full cost.
Johnson said tenders for the planned Nigerian jail had been placed and suppliers identified.
At the end of 2016 there were about 10,000 foreign nationals within the UK prison population, 19% of which were from African countries.
Adira Kallo with agency