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UK to build prison wing in Kirikiri for transferred Nigerian prisoners

Kirikiri Prison

Britain will build a new wing at Kirikiri Prisons in Lagos so that it can transfer Nigerian prisoners serving jail term in British prisons, the government in London has announced.

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.

Under that deal, eligible prisoners serving criminal sentences in Nigeria and Britain can be returned to complete their sentences in their respective countries. The British government did not indicate how many prisoners might be moved or when the project is likely to be completed.

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.

Meanwhile, the septuagenarian husband of a couple who was jailed for 37 years for conspiracy, armed robbery and kidnapping has made a passionate appeal to the Delta State Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy to grant him and his wife pardon and release them from prison.

Mr. Lucky Ishaka, 71 and his wife, Margaret, 56 who were convicted in 2012 are presently marking time at Warri Prisons.

They were discovered yesterday during a visit to the prison by members of the committee, led by Chief Patrick Okpakpor. The committee members were shocked to learn that six children of the couple were left at the mercy of the society.

In tears, the father, who is now partially blind, pleaded with the committee to consider his plight and that of his wife by granting them pardon. With a population of 1,500 inmates, the heavily overcrowded prison has 222 inmates currently on death row.

Chairman of the Advisory Council, Chief Patrick Okpakpor, was not happy with the congestion in the prison, which was initially built to accommodate 307 inmates, a situation which he insisted should be treated as a national emergency. He therefore urged the Federal Government to have a second look into the controversial issue of death sentence.

While also speaking yesterday in Warri during the council’s maiden visit to the Okere Prison, Okpakpor, the first Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Delta, expressed shock at the undignified and dehumanized conditions inmate are detained. He and his team were conducted round the detention facilities by the Deputy Controller of Prison, Mr. Sam Airiohuodion.

Stunned by the magnitude of congestion, he charged the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency make adequate budgetary provisions to expand the already over-stretched facility, originally designed and built to accommodate a maximum of 307 inmates but now accommodates over 1,500 inmates.

Members of the committee comprised of the secretary, Mrs. Uju Monye, Dr. Samuel Efetobor, Mr. John Okoriko and Mr. F. Njuokuemeni. The 222 inmates were physically made to appear before the members of the council to ascertain some of the claims contained in their applications.

While explaining the purpose of the visit to journalists, the leader of the delegation disclosed that, as a statutory body empowered to advise the governor in the exercise of powers vested on him by the constitution in granting amnesty to prisoners, the council will make appropriate recommendations for clemency to deserving inmates on death row and others serving various terms of imprisonment by the governor.

He emphasized that only qualified applications received by the council would be considered and forwarded for approval.

The Deputy Controller in charge of the Warri Prison, Mr. Sam Airiohuodion, appealed to both the federal and the Delta State government to intervene in the crisis situation currently experienced by the prisons in the state by building additional facilities to accommodate condemned convicts.

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