*As UK expands Kirikiri Prison
From Nosa Eresoyen, Asaba, with agency reports
It was a rude shock for stakeholders on Thursday when they heard that 222 inmates are on death row in Warri Prison, Delta State.
Even the Chairman of the Delta State Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy, Chief Patrick Okpakpor, who broke the news, said that he was disturbed by the large number of persons on death row at the Medium Security Prison.
He therefore urged the Federal Government to have a second look at the issue of death sentence.
Okpakpor, a former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Delta State, spoke when he led other members of the Council on a visit to the Okere Prison in Warri.
He condemned the dehumanising conditions the inmates were made to live.
The team, which was conducted round the detention facility by the Deputy Controller of Prison, Mr. Airiohuodion Sam, was stunned by the congestion in the prison.
Okpakpor said that the matter should be treated as a national emergency.
He also appealed to the Federal Government to make adequate budgetary provisions to expand the overstretched facility, originally designed to accommodate 307 inmates but, harbouring over 1,500 inmates.
Members of the committee comprising the Secretary, Mrs. Uju Monye, Dr. Samuel Efetobor, Mr. John Okoriko, and Mr. F. Njuokuemeni, interacted with some of the inmates.
A pathetic story was narrated by a husband and wife, who were jailed for 37 years, leaving their six children at the mercy of the society.
The 71 year-old man, who is partially blind, pleaded with the committee to consider his plight and that of his wife by granting them pardon.
All the 222 condemned convicts physically appeared before the council to ascertain the claims contained in their applications.
On the purpose of the visit, Okpakpor told journalists that as a statutory body empowered to advise the governor in exercise of powers vested on him by the constitution in granting amnesty to prisoners, it would make appropriate recommendations for clemency to deserving inmates on death row and others serving various terms of imprisonment.
Sam (Prison chief) who expressed joy on the Advisory Councila��s visit, appealed to both the Federal and the Delta State governments to intervene in the terrible situation in the prisons in the state by building additional facilities.
*UK expands Kirikiri facility for transfer of Nigerian prisoners
Meanwhile, Britain has unveiled plans to build a new wing at the Kirikiri Prison in Lagos so that it can transfer Nigerian prisoners there.
The new 112-bed wing, which will cost A?700,000 ($973,000) and be compliant with United Nations (UN) standards, will make it easier for Britain to comply with a prisoner transfer agreement it signed with Nigeria in 2014.
Under that deal, eligible prisoners serving criminal sentences in Nigeria and Britain can be returned to complete their sentences in their respective countries.
The British government did not indicate how many prisoners might be moved or when the project is likely to be completed.
Nigerian prisons, built mainly by British colonisers more than 100 years ago, are severely overcrowded leading to the spread of diseases.
Kirikiri is not one of the oldest prisons in Nigeria but it date back to colonial times.
In a written statement to parliament, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, said that tenders had been placed and a supplier identified to execute the project at Kirikiri. He did not name the supplier.
The project will be funded from Britaina��s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, which has an annual budget of more than A?1 billion and aims to commission projects that can help prevent conflicts and stabilise countries or regions.
*As UK expands Kirikiri Prison