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The UK no longer wants Nigerians in its prisons, so it’s paying to expand jails in Nigeria

AP/George Osodi
Kirikiri prison is getting a makeover.
  • Yomi Kazeem
By Yomi Kazeem

Africa reporter

Published Last updated on This article is more than 2 years old.

To keep its prisons free of Nigerians, the United Kingdom is paying to improve the capacity of Nigerian prisons.

The UK will pay up to £700,000 ($967,954) to build a new 112-bed wing at Kirikiri maximum security prisons, one of Nigeria’s largest. 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 Nigeriain line with a 2014 prisoner transfer agreement between both countries.

In the larger scheme of things, however, UK’s spend will likely not make too much of a dent on Nigeria’s prisons system. Kirkiri prison, established since 1955, has long been overcrowded with far more inmates than its official capacity of just over 1,000. 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 recent years, European Union countries have tried various methods to extradite illegal immigrants more quickly while also trying to tighten border controls in their home countries. In 2015, the EU set up a fund in 2015 to pay for border security in African countries like Libya but, last year,  EU leaders warned that the fund was reaching its limit.

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