The British and Nigerian governments are working on an agreement whereby all convicted Nigerians will hence forth serve their prison sentences in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s House of Representatives has approved the deal.
United Kingdom made the proposal during a visit to Nigeria by British Prime Minister David Cameron early in August.
The agreement still requires approval from the Nigerian Senate, where the proposal is likely to sail through soon.
At least 800 Nigerian inmates are being held across British jails, but it is not clear how many will face deportation as pioneer prisoner of the agreement.
The decision follows a visit by British Prime Minister David Cameron to Nigeria in July.
According to the proposal which had been put together by the UK Ministry of Justice, foreigners who abuse the UK system and find themselves convicted after committing criminal offences will be deported to serve their jail terms in Nigeria. That that will be affected initially are those with no legality to stay in the country. They will be deported to serve their jail terms in Nigeria under an ‘abuse of hospitality” tag.
“Where possible, those foreign nationals who receive a prison sentences should serve their sentences in their own countries,” the ministry said.
The earlier proposals as drafted require the consent of the prisoner..
Nigerian prisons are already overcrowded but Nigerian MP Jerry Manwe said that they could accommodate the influx of new inmates, according to BBC.
However, a dangled carrot by the British government appears too attractive for Nigeria to think twice on the proposal.
Nigeria’s government has nodded its approval because, under the new UK plan some Nigeria prisons will undergo rapid reburshment.
The UK deal was put together in order to avoid radical prisoners from using United Nations’ laws on human rights to claim the prison condition would not allow for such move.
A British official said investment was needed because conditions in Nigerian jails were too poor for UK prisoners.
Correspondents say such conditions would allow prisoners to block their transfer on human-rights grounds.
Records show that there are about 11,000 foreigners in British jails, including more than 800 from Nigeria.
Analysts say Nigeria’s jails are seriously congested and often damage the health of prisoners.
The possibility of help from Britain was welcomed by rights groups, but they said it marked the failure of the Nigerian government to look after its own prisons.
Nigeria’s Director of Public Prosecution Salihu Aliyu said it was a “positive move”.
“It should be encouraged not only between Nigeria and UK but with other countries,” he told the BBC.
A statement from the UK’s Ministry of Justice said the deal being negotiated would allow Nigerians imprisoned in the UK and Britons imprisoned in Nigeria to serve their sentences in their own countries.
“We believe that prisoners should normally serve their sentences in their own country – freeing up prison spaces and saving the taxpayer money on enforced removals,” the statement said.
The proposed deal would allow Nigerian convicts to be sent home even without their consent.