The British government announced in March 2018 its intention to build a new prison wing in Nigeria. The 112-bed wing would be built at Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison in Apapa, Lagos State, Nigeria, and would enable the deportation of prisoners from the UK to Nigeria. The British state signed a Prisoner Transfer Agreement in 2014 with Nigeria but has been unable to deport people because of the poor conditions of Nigeria’s prisons.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson announced the UK government’s intention to build a prison wing in Nigeria via a written statement on the 7th March 2018. Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison was built in 1955, five years before Nigeria became officially independent from British colonial rule. The official capacity of the prison is 1,056 people. As of March 2018, the prison held approximately 5,000 prisoners, making it phenomenally overcrowded. According to research by the UN, 3,700 of the prisoners had been awaiting trial for five years or more. Following the announcement, the spokesman for the Nigerian Prison Service, Francis Enobore, said that the UK government had yet to formally notify it and the Federal government of its plan.
Prisoners are currently unable to be transferred to Nigeria due to the conditions of its prisons, which breach United Nation standards. In 2017, human rights investigators found that prisoners in the country were subject to “extrajudicial executions, torture, gross overcrowding and poor basic facilities.” The country also still has the death penalty for crimes such as treason, homicide, murder and armed robbery. More than 527 people were sentenced to death in 2016, with more than 1,979 on death row. Corruption is also a serious issue in the prison service, as is the fact that children and adults are being imprisoned together.
Britain’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund
The new prison wing would be funded by Britain’s ‘Conflict, Stability and Security Fund’. This has an annual budget of more than a billion pounds and, according to the government, aims to commission projects that can help prevent conflicts and stabilise countries or regions. The fund is increasingly financing projects and programs relating to social control, policing, militarisation, and prisons. For example, £2.5 million was given to the Nigerian Police Force as ‘strategic assistance’. Police training was also funded in Sierra Leone to the sum of £2.31 million to provide training at senior levels in “public order management”.
The prison wing in Nigeria is not the first overseas prison-building project from the British state. In 2015, then Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to build a new prison in Jamaica for the same purposes: to allow the transfer of prisoners between the two countries. £25 million was offered to build a new prison for 1,500 people as part of a £300 million aid package setting Jamaica up for increased trade and global exploitation. The package, which only covered 40% of the cost, was eventually rejected by the Jamaican state.
Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson told legislators: “the terms they (UK) have provided are not beneficial to Jamaica as a whole and so we rejected it.”
The prison industrial complex is a global beast. Penal power is playing an increasing role in global migration. The Conflict, Stability and Security Fund is just one example of how the capitalist resources of Britain and the west are leveraging neocolonialist projects aimed at strengthening state forces, who use policing and prisons as tools for social control. All the while, private corporations profit from prison construction, prison labour and the border regime as human bodies are treated as mere commodities for exploitation.
Read more about the prison at: https://corporatewatch.org/carceral-colonialism-britains-plan-to-build-a-prison-wing-in-nigeria