BY: Fiona Freddy
The Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Stefanou Pontesilli has said that no fewer than 1500 Nigerians were serving various jail terms in Italy.
Pontesilli who said this in an interview with newsmen in Abuja described such as huge number.
”In Italy we have about 1500 Nigerians in jail. It’s a big number,” he said.
The envoy said Italy sometimes sent back Nigerians that are in Jail in Italy after 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 a report that Italy sometimes sent some 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 not even one has heard of being sent back to Libya.
According to him, the problem is that there are many thousands of Nigerians who were not able to cross from Libya to Italy and they 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 the migration by saving tens and thousands of the Nigerian lives when they were crossing the Mediterranean.
”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.
He said that Italy had also 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.
He said that Italian government had been involved in training many officials from arm forces, police officers, Nigerian immigration service officers.
”We have been general, 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 for mission courses in Italy over the year we will continue to do so because the official they come from Nigeria to Italy.
”They are smart, they prepared and very willing to learn the latest technology so they can come back and they all come back to apply this for the good of the country.
”We think we are doing a good job they will continue to do that,” he said.