On June 30th, 2022, our coloniser the United Kingdom’s Home Secretary, Priti Patel, announced the signing of an immigration deal with Nigeria.

She tweeted, “Our new landmark agreement with Nigeria will increase the deportation of dangerous foreign criminals to make our streets and country safer.” 

Nigeria wants deported criminals

The deal is part of the UK’s New Plan for Immigration policy, and Patel’s announcement caused some unease in Nigeria, for obvious reasons.

Why would Nigeria import dangerous foreign criminals to make the UK safer? It’s not like we don’t already have our own steady supply of criminals just roaming the streets.

The UK has a problem with foreign criminals

The UK is easily a favourite destination for legal and illegal immigrants from all over the world. It has one of the world’s oldest monuments, gave us James Bond and there’s always Royal Family drama so we understand the appeal. 

Sometimes, the foreigners landing in the UK may commit crimes and get into trouble with the law. Such an offender is classified as a foreign national offender (FNO) by the New Plan for Immigration. If the foreign offender is sentenced to a prison term of at least 12 months, they get a bonus punishment — automatic deportation. 

Nigeria wants deported criminals

This means once you trigger that release clause, you should be ready to return to the trenches your country of origin when you finish your sentence, or even before then.

But here’s where the UK’s headache sets in. As outlined in the New Plan for Immigration policy statement, foreign national offenders aren’t interested in returning to their own countries.

So foreign national offenders use the instruments of the law to file claims in courts to delay their removal or even nullify it, if they get lucky. This was how the UK ended up with 10,000 undeportable foreign national offenders as of 2020. The UK also has 42,000 foreigners whose asylum applications have failed but have refused to leave.

Nigeria wants deported criminals

ALSO READ: “When I Got to the UK, I Realised the Meaning of ‘It’s So Cold Outside'” – Abroad Life

And that’s where Nigeria comes in

To be clear, the “dangerous foreign criminals” the UK will be sending to Nigeria are Nigerian-born, not random citizens of other countries as was initially feared.

The agreement between the two countries also affects immigration offenders, not just convicted criminals. It speeds up the process of removing Nigerian-born convicted criminals and illegal migrants. 

The UK has already deported 13 Nigerians as a result of the deal. Eight of the deportees were convicted criminals, and the remaining five were described as immigration offenders. The UK government has signed similar deals with Albania, Ghana, India and Serbia.

Why would Nigeria agree to this deal?

Nigeria wants deported criminals

The Nigerian government hasn’t released any public statement addressing the UK deal, so it’s impossible to speculate what the thought process — if any — behind the agreement was.

But the New Plan for Immigration policy statement was clear that the UK would pressure countries into accepting their convicted citizens in an expedited manner. 

And if the affected countries don’t agree? 

The UK government could enforce stricter control of UK visa availability to any stubborn country. We can guess one or two reasons why that’s the kind of thing to turn a few heads in Abuja. Hint: It starts with “m” and ends with “edical tourism”.

ALSO READ: How to Stay Safe in Nigeria — Tips from the Nigerian Police



Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.