The Government of Britain plans to build a new wing in a Nigerian prison so that it can transfer Nigerian prisoners there, the government in London has announced. Reuters reports that the new wing will be built at Kirikiri Prison in Lagos.
The new 112-bed wing, which is estimated to cost 700,000 pounds ($973,000) 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.
In the said deal, eligible prisoners serving criminal sentences in Nigeria and Britain can be returned to complete their sentences in their respective countries.
The British government, however, failed to indicate how many prisoners might be moved or when the project is likely to be completed.
The British prison system has been showing signs of serious strain in recent years, with overcrowding, rising suicide rates and a growing issue with drug trafficking and other crimes within jails that were sometimes built in the Victorian era.
Reuters reported Thursday that 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 in Lagos, but the supplier remained unnamed.
Details showed that 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.
Nigerian prisons, many built more than a hundred years ago, are usually overcrowded, leading to the spread of diseases. Kirikiri is not one of the oldest prisons in Nigeria but it does date back to colonial times.
In February, the Nigerian government said the prison in Port Harcourt currently has nearly 5,000, with about 3,700 of them had been awaiting trial for more than five years. The prison was originally designed to hold 800 prisoners.
In July 2017, the Controller General of Nigerian Prisons Service, Jafaru Ahmed, said there was urgent need for adequate funding of prisons across the country in order to properly achieve major objectives of prisons service as well as ensure greater efficiency.
“We can improve the prisons service by improved funding that is one of our major constraints. We have gone to developed countries to see how prisons are efficiently run. The facilities that we have in Nigeria, most of them are obsolete and overstretched because of the high population. If there is improved funding, all the facilities that supposed to be in place will be in place,” he said.