19 June 2018

Libya: We Never Sent Nigerian Migrants Back to Libya - Italian Envoy

Photo: http://www.rfi.fr
(file photo).

The Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Stefano Pontesilli has dismissed reports that Italy sometimes sent some migrants, including Nigerians on sea route to Europe back to Libya.

The envoy told newsmen in Abuja that though thousands of Nigerian migrants were trapped in Libya; those who made the perilous journey to Italy were never sent back to the North African country.

"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," he said.

He said the Italian government has been doing so much on migration by saving thousands of lives, including that of Nigerians during the Mediterranean crossing.

"Authority has been doing so much in taking them to Italy, feeding them, getting them jobs, giving them house and trying to give them a new life," he said.

The envoy also disclosed that about 1,500 Nigerians were serving various jail terms in Italy.

"In Italy we have about 1500 Nigerians in jail. It's a big number. We send them back to Nigeria once they finish their terms because they have not behaved well," he said.

Pontesilli commended the "strong" bilateral relations between Nigeria and Italy, saying the stability and security of Nigeria is "Our foremost consideration.

"We think that without a stable and secure country, there cannot be development. So that's why we stand strongly behind President Muhammadu Buhari in trying to establish a strong, safe and stable Nigeria.

He said the Italian government had been providing security assistance to Nigeria, including training of Nigerian security officers.

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