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Transfer deal: Britain to repatriate Nigerian prisoners

By The Citizen
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Nigerians serving prison sentences in the United Kingdom will be sent home to serve out their terms under an agreement yet to be finalized by both UK and Nigerian governments.

Latest figures show there were 534 Nigerian nationals in British jails, 485 men and 49 women.

Talks are continuing into reaching a compulsory prisoner transfer agreement, which could see more than half of the prisoners from Nigeria currently in UK jails repatriated.

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who promised to help Nigeria improves its jails, hopes to strike a deal with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan

In April Mr. 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.'

Britain has even made clear it would pay to build new prisons in countries like Nigeria to speed up the process of sending foreign criminals home. Up to £1m has been promised to upgrade Nigerian jails, including a new wing at Kirikiri Prison in Lagos.

Cameron vowed to end the practice of the British taxpayer picking up the bill for criminals with no business in the UK.

The Prime Minister said in 2010 that he would 'personally intervene' to send more foreign criminals home.

Each felon costs an average of around £40,000 a year to keep inside.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Mr. 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.'

Overflowing jails abroad have made it increasingly difficult to deport prisoners to their own country.

It is argued that by paying for building new jails in the destination countries or making existing ones more 'comfortable' so they approach British standards, it would be easier to repatriate the prisoners.