The United Kingdom has drawn up plans to build an offshore prison in Nigeria to enable the government to transfer prisoners from Britain.
Foreign secretary, Mr. Boris Johnson announced construction of the “UN-compliant” 112-bed wing at the maximum security Kirikiri jail in Lagos in a written statement to parliament.
He said the new facility is part of the compulsory prisoner transfer deal signed with Nigeria in 2014.
“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,” he said.
There were 270 Nigerian prisoners out of a total of 9,349 foreign nationals in UK jails at the end of 2017, according to the latest statistics.
The total prison population at that time was 84,373 and it costs an average of around £35,000 a year to keep one person in prison.
“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.”
The UK announced a £25 million deal to build a prison in Jamaica in 2015 but the plan fell through following a dispute over funding.
Deals to transfer prisoners in UK jails to their countries of origin have also been made with Albania, Rwanda, Jamaica and Libya.
Kirikiri prison has a controversial history. According to a 1995 report it was notorious for overcrowding, “degrading” treatment of prisoners and very high death rate.
Johnson said the new wing is being paid for using the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) migration returns fund.
“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,” he added.
“The provision of this assistance is in line with the Government’s security and stability objectives in West Africa. FCO officials carry out regular reviews of our programmes in Nigeria to ensure funding is directed only to approve recipients.”