From LAIDE AKINBOADE
The Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Stefanou Pontesilli, has disclosed that over 1500 Nigerians are presently serving various jail terms in Italy.
Pontesilli who said this in an interview in Abuja, lamented the huge number.
According to him, “‘In Italy we have about 1500 Nigerians in jail. It’s a big number,” he said.
The envoy said Italy sometimes sends back Nigerians that are in jail in Italy after serving out their jail terms.
”We sometimes send back Nigerians that are in jail in Italy and we send them back to Nigeria once they finish their terms because they have not behaved well, “he said.
He, however, denied reports that Italy sometimes sends migrants from Nigeria to Libya.
”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 has being sent back to Libya,” Pontesilli stated.
According to him, the problem is that there are many thousands of Nigerians who are not able to cross from Libya to Italy and are stuck there.
”Thank God the government is doing a lot to repatriate them through chattered flights.
”Thanks for the help from the European Union, for the International Organisation for Migrations that are slowly repatriating them back to Nigeria,” he said.
He said that the relations between Italy and Nigeria remained stronger.
”That is why Italy has been doing so much on migration by saving tens and thousands of the Nigerian lives when they were crossing the Mediterranean.
”The authority has been doing so much in taking them to Italy, feeding them, getting them jobs, giving them houses and trying to give them a new life,” he said.
The envoy also said that Italy had done a lot in trying to help Nigeria maintain security and stability.
”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 Mohammadu 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,” he said.
According to him, the Italian government had been involved in training many officials from the armed forces, police officers, Nigerian immigration service officers.
”All people who have something to do with the stability and security of the nation we’ve been providing assistance repeatedly over the years.
”I think we have about a thousand courses in Italy over the year. We will continue to do so because the officials that come from Nigeria to Italy are smart, they are prepared and very willing to learn the latest technology so they can come back and apply this for the good of the country.
”We think we are doing a good job and will continue to do that,” he said.
In a related development, 34 Nigerians have been deported from the United States of America for allegedly committing offences in the country.
The deportees, comprising 32 males and two females, were brought back in a chartered Omni Air International aircraft with Registration Number W342AX, and arrived at the Cargo Wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMlA), Lagos.
Spokesman of the Lagos Airport Police Command, DSP Joseph Alabi, confirmed the development.