To decongest its prisons, which already has started showing signs of severe strain in recent years, with overcrowding, rising suicide rates and a growing problem with drug trafficking and other crimes within jails that were sometimes built in the Victorian era.., the United Kingdom has decided to pay a humongous amount of money to improve the capacity of Nigerian prisons.
Britain will build a new wing at Kirikiri Prison in the Nigerian city of Lagos so that it can transfer Nigerian prisoners there, the government in London has announced.
Boris Johnson, UK’s foreign secretary says sponsoring the prison will allow for some of the over 320 Nigerian inmates currently serving time in the UK to complete their sentences in Nigeria.
The new 112-bed wing, which will cost 700,000 pounds and be compliant with United Nations standards, will make it easier for Britain to comply with a prisoner transfer agreement it signed with Nigeria in 2014.
Under that deal, eligible prisoners serving criminal sentences in Nigeria and Britain can be returned to complete their sentences in their respective countries. The British government did not indicate how many prisoners might be moved or when the project is likely to be completed.
Kirkiri prison, established since 1955, has long been overcrowded with far more inmates than its official capacity of just over 1,000, leading to the spread of diseases. The problem of overcrowding is rooted in the culture of arbitrary arrests and a slow-moving criminal justice system. Data from Nigeria’s statistics bureau shows that 72.5% of Nigeria’s total prison problems are serving time without being sentenced.
In a written statement to parliament, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said tenders had been placed and a supplier identified to conduct the building work at Kirikiri. He did not name the supplier.
The project will be funded from Britain’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, which has an annual budget of more than 1 billion pounds and aims to commission projects that can help prevent conflicts and stabilise countries or regions.