1,500 Nigerians in Italian prisons, says envoy

The Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Stefanou Pontesilli, has said there 1,500 Nigerians serving jail terms for various offences in his country.
Pontesilli disclosed this in an interview with newsmen in Abuja, yesterday.
“In Italy, we have about 1,500 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, for 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 insisted.
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 equally said that the relationship between Italy and Nigeria remain strong.
“That is why Italy has been doing so much on the migration; by saving tens and thousands of Nigerians’ lives when crossing the Mediterranean. The 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.
He added that Italy has 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 Muhammadu 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.
The envoy also disclosed that the Italian government has been involved in training many Nigerian officials; from the military, the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigeria Immigration Service.
In a related development, Nigeria’s Consul-General in Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China, Mr Wale Oloko, said about 600 Nigerians are in various Prisons in Guangdong Province; for different offences.
Oloko told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that, as at February, there were about 600 Nigerians arrested for overstaying their visas, engaging in drug trafficking and other criminal offences.
“There is no doubt that there are currently a number of Nigerians in various Chinese prisons, at least, those under our consular jurisdiction in Guangzhou.”
He said that some of the Nigerians currently in Chinese prisons were being prepared for deportation.
Oloko enjoined Nigerians desirous of visiting any part of China to always obey Chinese immigration and general laws when in the provinces.