There are 500 Nigerians in various prisons across the United Kingdom, the British High Commission in Nigeria has said.
British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, told SUNDAY PUNCH.
Arkwright said, “As of September 2015, there were approximately 500 Nigerians across UK prisons, and transfers are made following consent by both countries. There are something like two million Nigerians or people of Nigerian descent living legally, peacefully and contributing to the UK in many different ways.
“There are about 250,000 Nigerian nationals with Nigerian passports in the UK contributing to the United Kingdom’s economy. In other words, there are people who have been there for many generations who are British nationals; with Nigerian descent.”
Last year, the UK and Nigeria signed a Prisoner Transfer Agreement that allows Nigerians who commit crimes in the UK, and Britons who commit crimes in Nigeria to serve their sentences in their respective countries where “they can be properly prepared for release into the community in which they will live following their release.”
He described Nigerians as wonderful, enterprising and enthusiastic people, adding that they are a huge asset to the UK’s cultural and economic diversity.
“Currently there are around 19, 000 Nigerians studying across the UK and I must add, most of them are doing very well in their various courses of study. In the first quarter of 2016, the British High Commission will host the 2014/2015 batch of Chevening scholars who’ve completed their Master’s programme to a reception,” the British envoy said.
According to him, Nigeria has a great potential to become one of the world’s leading economies if it diversifies its economy.
“If you look all around Nigeria you will see rich resources that would place the economy of the country notches higher if properly harnessed; from agriculture to its extractive industries. Even Nigeria’s creative industry which is growing in leaps and bounds could place the country in great shape on the economic front.
“Politically, Nigeria would fare a lot better if individuals and institutions uphold the rule of law. If people and institutions play by laid down rules and refrain from circumventing the system, everyone would be better off for it. That’s a message that President (Muhammadu) Buhari has made very clear, and I strongly endorse it,” Arkwright said.