Nigerian prison scheme proposed

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of Nigerian prisoners could be sent home to serve the remainder of their terms in a prison built and paid for by the UK, it emerged today.

The Government is negotiating with the west African country over an agreement to transfer many of the 400 Nigerian prisoners currently in jail here back home, a senior immigration official said.

The direct investment - likely to be around £3 million - is needed because conditions in existing Nigerian prisons are so poor that prisoners could oppose their deportation on human rights grounds.

Lin Homer, the chief executive of the UK Border Agency, told MPs the deal would save taxpayers' money and speed up removals.

It would require Nigeria to change the law so prisoners could be sent back without their consent, and with the paperwork for their deportation already completed, Ms Homer said.

She told the Home Affairs Committee: "We are in negotiations with Nigeria to help them establish better prison conditions in Nigeria. It's about helping them generate a structure that can cope with [the prisoners].

"We are prepared to invest if that would enable us to send people home. We haven't yet, we are in talks with Nigeria and it would be well worth the money to do so."

She added: "They have to feel they have got capacity to take prisoners back to serve the remainder of their sentence."