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By NBF News
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High Commissioner of Nigeria to the United Kingdom, Dr. Dalhatu Sarki Tafida has revealed that about 500 Nigerians are languishing in United Kingdom prisons for various offences ranging from immigration issues to criminal activities.

He further said the UK was no longer a safe haven where Nigerians could easily travel to and hustle to eke out a livelihood. Speaking with journalists at the Nigerian Carnival award dinner in London on Saturday night, Tafida said the number of prisoners today was far less than what he inherited when he assumed office three years ago.

According to him, well over 1,000 Nigerians were clamped into prisons as at the time he was appointed the high commissioner, a development he said tainted the image of Nigeria in no small way. He, however, regretted that many of the nation's citizens in the UK were surviving via illegal means like credit card fraud, internet scams, obtaining by trick, immigration paper forgery, among others.

He warned Nigerians wishing to come to visit, study or settle in the UK to ensure they had genuine papers and confirmed businesses before travelling.'They should make sure they have a source of livelihood. UK is no longer a safe haven. It's easier to live in Nigeria without a job than live in UK without a job. So unless you have a job, a confirmed job, don't come here. Number two, make sure your papers are complete and not forged. That is what gets a lot of Nigerians in trouble and some end up in prison,' he stated.

To deal with the problem, Tafida said the commission was talking with the British government on how to assist Nigerians working in the UK get necessary papers, where needed, to ensure they were not embarrassed or deported.

'We have opened our doors to anyone who needs assistance. We've also created a dialogue between us and the UK government. We've a UK/Nigeria forum pertaining to immigration, where those who are qualified to stay, even if they don't have passports, we try to grant them, especially once we have evidence that the government is willing to grant them stay. This is ongoing and you can investigate to confirm,' he explained.

He also revealed that the commission had been assisting Nigerian prisoners in the UK via various welfare packages.