Prisons in Nigeria

10 Most Toughest and Feared Prisons in Nigeria.


Prisons are also known as correctional centers in Nigeria, they are established with the notion to serve as rehabilitation centers for those who have been misled or have engaged in one crime or the other within the society. Moving on in this post we shall talk about different types of prisons, capacity, year of establishment and some frequently asked questions about prisons in Nigeria.

Nigeria prison/ Nigeria correctional service

Prisons in Nigeria
PHOTO: Nigeria prison service Headquarters

In Nigeria, a government agency operates the prisons, they are known as The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), formerly Nigerian Prison Service (NPS), it is the third arm of the Criminal Justice system in
Nigerian domiciled in the Ministry of Interior, in Nigeria.

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What are the types of Prisons in Nigeria?

Prisons or correctional facility in Nigeria are categorized into the following:

  • Juveniles/Minor correctional facilities.
  • Female-only prisons.
  • Security prisons (Minimum security).
  • Medium security.
  • Maximum security Military prisons.

But in this write-up, we will be discussing prisons in Nigeria generally irrespective of the category they fall into.

1. Kirikiri prison

10 Most Toughest and Feared Prisons in Nigeria.

Kirikiri is a Nigerian popular prison located in Lagos state Nigeria, it was established in the year 1955 and has a holding capacity of over 1050.

The Kirikiri Maximum Security Jail, Kirikiri Medium Prison, and Kirikiri Female Prison (one out of the two all-female prisons in Nigeria) are among the several divisions that make up the prison. The maximum jail had almost 2000 inmates against a capacity of 1056, while the medium prison housed over 3,100 inmates as opposed to its 1948 limit.

The prison have hosted several notable Nigerians like Chief Bode George, Clifford Orji, Al-Mustapha, Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Music legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, and former president Olusegun Obasanjo among others.

2. Port Harcourt Prison

10 Most Toughest and Feared Prisons in Nigeria.

Port Harcourt prison was established in 1918, it is located in Rivers state Nigeria. It is a Maximum Security prison that was built to accommodate 800 inmates, but reports have it that the prison holds about 5000 inmates, and about 74% of the inmate have been awaiting trial for over five years.

The Port Harcourt prison is said to be the most populated prison in Nigeria.

3. Kaduna Convict Prison

10 Most Toughest and Feared Prisons in Nigeria.

Kaduna prison is a major prison servicing the northern region of Nigeria. It is located at Independence Way, City Centre, Kaduna state. It can accommodate about 547 inmates.

The jail was founded in 1915, making it older than 100 years. It was initially established as an Old Convict Prison as it currently house close to 1,000 inmates in it.

4. Goron Dutse Prison

10 Most Toughest and Feared Prisons in Nigeria.

Goron dutse prison is located near Goron Dutse Hill in Kano state Nigeria. It has a carrying capacity of about 600 inmates but houses over 1280 inmates as of 2011, as reported by SERVICOM Compliance Evaluation of Nigerian Prisons Service.

In the prison yard, there are a variety of sports facilities provided for inmates’ leisure and exercises such as a football pitch, a badminton court, draft boards, etc. the prison also has a staff school.

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5. Enugu Maximum Security Prison

10 Most Toughest and Feared Prisons in Nigeria.

Enugu maximum prison was established in the year 1915 with the capacity to hold 638 inmates. The prison is located in Enugu state of Nigeria, it is one of the most prominent prisons in the Eastern region of Nigeria. According to a report from premium times the prison holds 1,800 inmates as of 2016.

The maximum-security prison has both male and female sections, it was known to produce the first inmate in West Africa to bag a master’s degree in 2017. according to my findings, the inmates in this correctional facility seem to have found a special interest in education.

6. Maiduguri Maximum Prison

10 Most Toughest and Feared Prisons in Nigeria.

This is yet another maximum security prison in Nigeria, it is located at Baga Road, Opposite Maimalari Army Barrack, Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria. it has a male and female section and a capacity of 1,600 inmates.

As of 2011, a report from SERVICOM Compliance Evaluation of Nigerian Prisons Service stated that about 593 inmates only were on the ground during Evaluation. It’s the only poison with no report of overcrowding as of then.

In 2022 the Government of Germany with its implementing partner, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) upgraded the prison and handed over vocational, and sporting infrastructures and equipment to the correctional facility, this is to help improve prison conditions, strengthen and advance the rehabilitation of offenders.

7. Abakaliki Prison

10 Most Toughest and Feared Prisons in Nigeria.

The jail, which is located in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, Nigeria, was founded in 1946 and has a maximum holding capacity of 387 convicts. In 2016, The Sun reported that the correctional facility holds about 1000 inmates which is over double of its capacity. The prison is said to be popular for hosting heavyweight politicians in Nigeria.

8. Suleja Prison

10 Most Toughest and Feared Prisons in Nigeria.

In Nigeria’s Niger State, Suleja Prison is a Medium Security Custodial Facility. it had a capacity of 250 convicts when it was completed in 1914, but as of 2020, it houses roughly 748 inmates. The jail contain separate sections for men and women.

9 Kuje prison

10 Most Toughest and Feared Prisons in Nigeria.

Off Dodi-Chikuku Road in Kuje Abuja, the federal capital of Nigeria, is where Kuje jail is housed. Kuje prison is a medium security facility. The correctional facility which was founded in 1987, is well-known as the jail where notable Nigerians wind up.

The prison has a capacity of 550 but houses over the prison, 1,000 inmates. it was attacked by Boko Haram terrorists on July 5 2022 thereby leading to the escape of over 879 detainees including all 68 imprisoned Boko Haram members. The facility features a prison Mosque, Church and Library.

10 Ikoyi prison

10 Most Toughest and Feared Prisons in Nigeria.

Ikoyi prison is a medium prison located on 20-27 Ribadu Rd, Ikoyi Lagos state Nigeria. The Custodial Centre was built to accommodate 800 inmates, but housed over 2,665 inmates, it was built in 1955.

In 2018 Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice said the government is working to move the Ikoyi Jail to Epe to help relieve prison overcrowding.

While writing this article we gathered some frequently asked questions about Prison in Nigeria and we have provided detailed answer to them.

Which prison is the highest in Nigeria?

Kirikiri Maximum prison is the highest and toughest prison in Nigeria, it was established in the year 1995 and is located in Apapa Lagos, Nigeria.

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Are Prisons in Nigeria overpopulated?

Yes, there is now too much population in Nigerian jails. As of 2022, it contains around 37% more prisoners than was anticipated. Furthermore, according to the report, although Nigeria’s prisons have a capacity of roughly 50,083 inmates, they now house more than 70,056 inmates.

Out of the over 70,056 inmates at the facility, about 50,822 are awaiting trial, that is only 19,234 (27%) inmates have been convicted while others are serving jail time without knowing if they are guilty or not guilty of crimes said to have been committed

Every Prison in the world have its capacity/population, it is important to note that prisons should not be overpopulated in other to achieve their purpose of establishment which are

(a.) retribution which means punishment of crime committed in the society

(b.) incapacitation which means the removal of offenders or criminals from the society to prevent them from further hurting people in the society

(c.) deterrence means to the prevention of future crime and (d.) rehabilitation which means the activity designed to change criminals into law-abiding citizens.

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What is the prison population in Nigeria 2022?

The information below show the Prison population trend (Pre-trial/remand prison) from the year 2000 to 2022.

According to statistics from Prison Studies.

YearNumber in
of total
prison population
population rate
(per 100,000 of
national population)

It’s important to remember that the number of pre-trial/remand prisoners fluctuates from day to day, month to month, and year to year. Consequently, the above figures indicate the trend but the picture is inevitably incomplete.

The pre-trial/remand population rate is calculated based on the national population total. All national population figures are inevitably estimates but the estimates used in the World Prison Brief are based on official national figures, United Nations figures, or figures from other recognized international authorities.

A new correctional facility for convicts may be built by the Nigerian government as soon as feasible, or it may be forced to cope with overcrowding in the current one due to the alarming growth rate of prisoners in the country.

How many female prisons are in Nigeria?

In Nigeria, there are only two all-female correctional facilities in which are:

  • Kirikiri women’s Prison: the Kirikiri women’s Prison is located in Lagos State, Nigeria with a capacity to accommodate 1,700 inmates.
  • Numan Old Prison: Numan Old Prison is located in Adamawa state with a capacity to accommodate 400 inmates.

The table below shows Female prison population trend in Nigeria from 2000 to 2022 as cited from Prison Studies.

The table shows the year, Number of female prisoners, that is the number of female prisoners in the prison population and the percentage of the total prison population that female prisoners constitute, it also shows the female prison population rate per 100,000 of the national population.

YearNumber of
of total
prison population
population rate
(per 100,000 of
national population)

How many prisons dose Nigeria have?

Nigeria has a total of 240 prisons in total, these prisons are located in different states in Nigeria including the federal capital territory, Abuja.

What is the Official website of the Nigeria correctional service?

What is the highest prison level?

Super-maximum security (supermax) prisons is the highest prison category. The exceptional convicts who are the biggest security threats in the prison system and those who constitute a very significant danger to both national and international security are housed in this level of security, making it the most secure jail in the system.

How many prisons are in Lagos State?

There are only 5 prison or correctional facility in Lagos state, they include:

  • Ikoyi prison
  • Kirikiri (Female),
  • Kirikiri (Medium),
  • Kirikiri (Maximum)
  • Badagry correctional Centre

The five prisons hold a total of over 9,000 inmates in Lagos state.

Which prison was break in Nigeria?

Kuje prison located in Nigeria’s capital Abuja was attacked by militant group Boko Haram (ISWAP) on the night of Tuesday 5th July 2022. Over 400 inmates were reported missing after the attack leaving a security guard and four inmates killed with 16 others injured during the attack.

What does life imprisonment mean in Nigeria or How long is life sentence in Nigeria?

In Nigeria, Life imprisonment does not necessarily mean that a convict would spend the rest of his or her life in prison as the Criminal Code does not define the length of “Life imprisonment”.

In the real sense, a convict sentenced to life imprisonment would be remanded in prison indefinitely except when granted an executive pardon or when paroled upon the recommendation of the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Prisons Service.

But under the Penal Code, it is believed or possible that life imprisonment is equivalent to 20 Years imprisonment.

The crime that warrants this kind of judgment includes murder, child molestation or abuse, rape, armed robbery, attempted murder, Kidnapping, and more. Also for children under the age of 7 – 18 no life imprisonment.

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