Stefanou Pontesilli, the Italian Ambassador to Nigeria says no fewer than 1500 Nigerians are serving jail terms for various offences in Italy. Pontesilli who made the disclosure in an interview with newsmen in Abuja said the number was huge.
“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 finished their terms because they have not behaved well” he said.
He however denied reports that Italy sometimes send Nigerian migrants from Italy 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,” he said.
According to him, thousands of Nigerians unable to cross from Libya to Italy have been stuck in Libya. “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,” he said.
The envoy said that the relationship 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 Nigerians’ lives when crossing the Mediterranean. Authority has 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” Pontesilli said.