The Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Stefanou Pontesilli, has said no fewer than 1,500 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 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 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 chartered 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.
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 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 disclosed that the Italian government had been involved in training many Nigerian officials from the military, police and immigration.