- The Italian ambassador to Nigeria, Stefanou Pontesilli, has disclosed that not less than 1500 Nigerians are serving time in Italian jails
- He also denied reports that his country sometimes sends Nigerian migrants from Italy to Libya
- The ambassador further stated that Italy had done a lot in ensuring the security and stability of Nigeria
No fewer than 1500 Nigerians are serving jail terms for various offences in Italy, says the country’s ambassador to Nigeria, Stefanou Pontesilli. He made the disclosure during a chat with journalists in Abuja, Vanguard reports.
He stated: “In Italy, we have about 1500 Nigerians in jail for various offences. It is a big number. We sometimes send them back to Nigeria once they finish their terms because they have not behaved well.”
The ambassador, however, denied reports that his country sometimes sends Nigerian migrants from Italy to Libya.
He said: “Never. We never sent anyone; not even one single person to Libya. Some Nigerians are stuck in Libya because they were never able to cross over to Italy. But all those who went to Italy, no one, not even one was ever sent back. All Nigerians who have reached Italy and are behaving well have no problem. Not one of them, not even one has heard of being sent back to Libya.”
Pontesilli stated that thousands of Nigerians unable to cross from Libya to Italy have been stuck in Libya.
He said: “Thank God the government is doing a lot to repatriate them through chattered flights. Thanks for the help from the European Union and the International Organisation for Migrations that are slowly repatriating them back to Nigeria.”
The ambassador stressed that the relationship between Italy and Nigeria remains strong.
"That is why Italy has been doing so much on the migration by saving tens and thousands of the Nigerians’ lives when crossing the Mediterranean. Authorities have been doing so much by taking them to Italy, feeding them, getting them jobs, giving them house and trying to give them a new life," he added.
Pontesilli also stated that Italy had done a lot in ensuring the security and stability of Nigeria.
In his words: “This to Italy is very important, the stability and the security of Nigeria is our foremost consideration.
“We think that without a stable secure country, there cannot be development. So that’s why we stand strongly behind President Muhammadu Buhari trying to establish a strong, safe and stable Nigeria. This to us, is the number one priority of the country. We are doing all we can to support this.”
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com previously reported that the federal government disclosed that in 2016, precisely 200,346 Nigerians fled the country, and were granted refugee status in neighbouring countries.
The development was made public by the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.
Which country would you leave Nigeria for? - on NAIJ.com TV: