"onvicted former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, and other Nigerians serving prison terms in the United Kingdom may soon be transferred to Nigeria to complete their sentence following an agreement on prisoners transfer signed on Thursday between the Federal Government and the UK government.
The British government has also promised to give the country £1m (about N260mm) to assist in comprehensive reformation of the Nigerian Prisons for the comfort of the inmates.
UK Minister of Justice, Mr. Jeremy Wright, said this while answering questions from journalists when he visited visited the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, in Abuja to finalise the process of prisoner exchange between Britain and Nigeria.
Wright stated that under the agreement, several Nigerians in British prisons would be repatriated to complete their jail terms in the country.
He stressed the importance of respecting the agreement by the two countries, adding that there was the need for the prisons in Nigeria to be improved on considerably.Wright, who led a five-man delegation said, though the prisoners were paying for the crimes they might have committed, conditions in detention centres, where they were staying, should be made humane and accommodating enough for them.
He thanked the Federal Government and the Minister of Interior for making it possible for the two countries to finalise the agreement which would lead to the mutual exchange of prisoners, assuring that every effort would be made to foster the cordial relationship between Nigeria and the UK.
“We believe that the agreement today is a positive step in furthering our mutual relationship and partnership with Nigeria for prisoner exchange. Under the agreement Nigerians in UK prisons will be repatriated to Nigeria to complete their terms,” he said.
Moro promised to do everything within his powers to ensure that the agreement on prisoner exchange becomes operative before the end of the year, since the agreement had been signed.Earlier, Nigeria and the UK had signed the Prisoner Transfer Agreement in Abuja.
There are no fewer than 500 Nigerians serving jail terms in the UK against one Briton serving a jail term in Nigeria.Despite the huge disparity, the UK Minister of Justice, Wright said the agreement was good for both countries.
“This is a good agreement for both Nigeria and Uk. It gives us an opportunity to strengthen our partnership and friendship. It is also an opportunity to ensure that the prisoners which come from either country will serve their sentences in their own countries that is better for their rehabilitation,” he said.
Wright signed the agreement at a ceremony coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammad Adoke (SAN) signed for Nigeria.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, who earlier received Wright in her office, said experts from both countries would work out the modalities on the implementation of the agreement which is expected to come into force before the end of the year.
“After the signing ceremony, experts from both countries will now sit down to bring the modalities for implementation. After which the two countries will go back to ratify and then it will come into force,” she said.
Adoke said the Federal Government, by signing the agreement “remained irrevocably committed to the welfare of Nigerians residing in the United Kingdom.”