President Goodluck Jonathan
Damilola Oyedele â€¨
President Goodluck Jonathan Wednesday signed the bill to facilitate the exchange of prisoners between Nigeria and the United Kingdom without the consent of the prisoner after the bill waited for 15 months.
As at August 2012, 571 Nigerians were serving various jail terms in the UK prisons, 350 of these are eligible for without consent, return, and the eligibility is determined by the seriousness of the offence for which a person has been jailed and the amount of time he has left on his sentence.
Fending for the prisoners is said to be gulping a huge amount of British taxpayers’ money which made Britain to approach Nigeria for a review of the old law which Nigerians in British jails exploited to stay in the UK where the jails are considered more conducive.
To ensure that the repatriated prisoners continue their sentences in prisons in Nigeria that meet minimum standards, Britain, last year, committed over £1 million to upgrade some Nigerian prisons and constructed an extra wing in Kirikiri prisons in Lagos alongside the construction of a guard tower.
THISDAY gathered that the draft agreement to see to the implementation of the prisoners’ repatriation was already being worked out by both sides.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Martin Uhomoibhi, at a meeting of the Nigeria/UK Dialogue on Immigration Return in Abuja, yesterday said two articles in the agreement had however not been sorted out by both countries.
He expressed optimism that the articles would be sorted out soon so that implementation could
“The meeting is also intended to review the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on immigration between the two countries and access the progress made in the collaboration against human trafficking, migration irregularities and the intention to double trade figures by 2014,” Uhomoibhi added.
In a recent interview with THISDAY, the Head of Political Section of the British High Commission in Abuja, Mr. Paul Edwards, said it made more sense for a prisoner to serve out his sentence in his home country where he has a family support structure.
He clarified that the bill did not see to repatriate prisoners for minor offences such as failure to pay parking ticket fines.