UK: Too Many Nigerian Criminals, so Brits Build Prison in Nigeria

There are so many Nigerian criminals in UK jails that the British government has announced that it will build a new prison in Nigeria to house them—making that the fifth foreign nation to enter into prisoner swap deals with Britain.

According to a written statement by UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson, the British government has committed £695,525 (US$970,041) to build a UN compliant 112 bed wing in Kiri Kiri Prison, Lagos.

“On 9 January 2014, the United Kingdom signed a Compulsory Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Nigeria. As part of this agreement, eligible prisoners serving criminal sentences in Nigeria and the UK can be returned to complete their sentences in their respective countries,” Johnson said in his statement—ignoring the obvious fact that the prisoner transfer is exclusively a one way affair, from Britain to Nigeria.

“In support of this, and to help improve the capacity of the Nigerian Prison Service, the Government has agreed to build a UN compliant 112 bed wing in Kiri Kiri Prison, Lagos,” Johnson contined.

“Tenders have been placed and a supplier identified to conduct the building work, alongside project support and monitoring and evaluation, bringing the total cost to £695,525. This project is funded from the CSSF (Conflict, Stability and Security Fund) Migration Returns Fund,” he said, adding that the “provision of this assistance is in line with the Government’s security and stability objectives in West Africa.”

According to the official UK government’s website, the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) “provides development and security support to countries which are at risk of conflict or instability. It’s the only government fund which uses both Official Development Assistance (ODA) spend and non-ODAspend to deliver and support security, defence, peacekeeping, peace-building and stability activity.”

It is not therefore clear how using CSSF funds to enable the moving of Nigerian criminals from the UK to Nigeria fits the parameters of the fund’s program, but Johnson did not bother to explain further.

A report in a Nigerian newspaper on the deal said that statistics provided by the UK ministry of justice indicated that there were about 320 Nigerian prisoners serving in British prisons as at the end of 2016. This means that Nigerians accounted for 3 percent of the prisoner population in the country.

The total prison population at that time was 84,373 and it costs an average of around £35,000 (US$48,808) a year to keep one person in prison.

In 2015, the British government The UK announced a £25 million (US$34 million) project to build a prison in Jamaica in an effort to reduce the 600 Jamaican nationals in British jails.

According to reports on that deal, the Jamaicans could not be repatriated “because of fears that poor jail conditions on the island would allow a successful challenge under human rights law.”

Deals to transfer prisoners in UK jails to their countries of origin have also been made with Albania, Rwanda, and Libya.

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