Nigeria and the UK will sign the Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA) on Thursday in Abuja, a senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed.
Mr Ogbole Ode, spokesman of the ministry said on Wednesday in Abuja that the agreement would be signed by Nigeria’s Minister of Justice Mohammed Adoke and the UK Minister of Prisons Jeremy Wright.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that no fewer than 15,316 Nigerians are in various prisons abroad with the largest number of 752 in the UK.
The bilateral agreement allows the return of a prisoner to serve out his sentence in his home country where both jurisdictions are in agreement.
Similarly, Mr Abdulazzez Dankano, the Director of Consular and Immigration Services in the ministry also, told NAN that Nigeria had an existing Commonwealth Prisoner Transfer agreement with the UK.
According to him, the commonwealth scheme had facilitated the repatriation of only one prisoner since inception.
“Under the commonwealth agreement, the prisoner has to consent before repatriation as that is the practice in international human rights.
“The commonwealth scheme is still open and convicted prisoners can opt to come back through that scheme or through the bilateral PTA that will soon be signed,’’ he said.
Dankano said that some 300 Nigerian nationals currently in UK jails could be deported under the new prisoner transfer agreement.
NAN learnt that a major stumbling block to deportation of Nigerians in the past had been the condition of prisons but the UK has promised one million pounds to Nigeria to help improve its prisons.
Nigeria is currently implementing a PTA with Thailand, which had seen the repatriation of 400 prisoners since 2008.
The country has concluded negotiations with Hong Kong and India on the transfer of prisoners but have yet to sign the agreements.