The government of the United Kingdom has announced plans to build a new wing at Kirikiri Prisons in Lagos so that it can transfer Nigerian prisoners serving jail term in British prisons.
It is understood that the new 112-bed wing, which will cost 700,000 pounds ($973,000) and will 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.
While the British government is yet to speak on how many prisoners might be moved or when the project is likely to be completed, it is gathered that under that deal, eligible prisoners serving criminal sentences in Nigeria and Britain can be returned to complete their sentences in their respective countries.
Nigerian prisons — many of them built by British colonizers more than 100 years ago — are severely overcrowded, leading to the spread of diseases.
The Federal Government has said it is developing a strategy to tackle the issue.
Britain’s own prison system has been 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.
Last month, the government said the prison in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, which was originally designed to hold 800 prisoners, currently has nearly 5,000. It said 3,700 of them had been awaiting trial for more than five years.
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 stabilize countries or regions.