FG meets Italy over 26 Nigerians’ burial, demands victims’ identities

The Federal Government has met with some officials of the Italian government in its attempt to investigate the burial of 26 Nigerian women who died in the Mediterranean Sea three weeks ago.

The FG, through the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, met Italian officials including the President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Laura Boldrini; the Chief of Italian Police, Franco Gabrielli; and the General Commander of Italy’s Carabinieri, Tullio Del Sette, in Italy.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, was one of the Nigerian delegates at the meeting.

According to a release by NAPTIP on Sunday, the agency’s Director General, Julie Okah-Donli, condemned the “hasty burial of the 26 women,” noting that a report was being awaited from Italy on the identities of the deceased.

The forum was titled, ‘Women empowerment and the fight against trafficking in persons: the partnership between Italy and Nigeria” and organised by Boldrini, the head of the Italian lawmakers.

The remains of the women believed to be crossing the Mediterranean were recovered from a Spanish warship, Cantabria, which docked in Salerno, a coastal area in Italy on Monday, November 6.

The ship was reportedly found to be carrying 375 rescued migrants and the dead women.

Okah-Donli, asked the Italian authorities to ensure that those involved in the incident were properly prosecuted.

She said, “To stem the tide of such dangerous journeys, the Nigerian government has introduced a number of economic and social measures to reverse this unfortunate trend.

“We frown on the haste with which the 26 girls were buried without full disclosure of their identities and nationalities. We express sadness that the remains of the girls were buried on Friday, November 17, just a day after the Italian Embassy in Nigeria communicated to us through an email that the remains would be buried on November 26.

“We convey the anger and sadness of the Nigerian people over the news of the death of the young girls, especially with the unavailability of their proper identities and how they died. We demand that those who are involved in the gruesome death of these girls be properly identified and prosecuted.”

The DG asked Italy to implement the “Palermo Protocol especially with victims’ care and support rather than treat victims from Nigeria as criminals.”

The statement added, “As of the time the DG left Italy, the Nigerian Embassy was still awaiting a formal response to the request for a proper report on the matter from the Italian authorities, especially with regard to the number of identified Nigerians and their identities.” (Punch)