The United Kingdom has promised to give Nigerian Prisons £1m (about N210m) to improve its prisons before 534 Nigerian prisoners in Britain can be sent home to serve the remainder of their jail sentences under a deal agreed between the two countries.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has made it a major campaign point in 2010 to reduce the number of foreign prisoners in UK prisons by deporting them to finish their sentence in their hom countries.
There are 534 Nigerians in UK prisons and more than half of them, according to UK media reports, could be deported under the new prisoner transfer agreement under discussion.
A major stumbling block to this deportation has been the poor condition of prisons in the prisoners home countries, but the UK has promised £1million to Nigeria to help improve its prisons.
UK Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright said, “I am clear that more foreign prisoners must serve their sentences in their own countries. That is why we are currently working with the Nigerian Government on a compulsory prisoner transfer agreement to increase the number of prisoners who are transferred.
“Legislation allowing Nigeria to enter such an arrangement was passed earlier this year by the Nigerian Parliament. We are now working with them on the text of a final agreement.”
There are currently 10,786 foreign prisoners in British jails, down just three per cent from the 11,135 incarcerated when David Cameron came to power more than three years ago.
In April, Cameron said, “When people are sent to prison in the UK we should do everything we can to make sure that if they’re foreign nationals, they are sent back to their country to serve their sentence in a foreign prison.
“And I’m taking action in Government to say look we have strong relationships with all of the countries where these people come from. Many are coming from Jamaica, many from Nigeria, many from other countries in Asia.
“We should be using all of the influence we have to sign prisoner transfer agreements with those countries. Even if necessary frankly helping them to build prisons in their own country so we can send the prisoners home.”
In the UK, it costs an estimated £119,000 (about N28m) to cater for a new prisoner and an annual average cost of £41,000 (about N10m) for each prisoner. Thus the deportation of prisoners rids the UK of criminals and is a cost-saving measure in the face of financial constraints.
Polish nationals make up the highest foreign contingent in jails in England and Wales, with 829 currently behind bars. Irish criminals are second with 769, and Jamaica is third with 759. Romanians, Nigerians, Pakistanis, Indians, Lithuanians, Somalians and Vietnamese make up the rest of the top ten.