By OMONU NELSON, Abuja
The federal government has expressed misgiving and shock over the sudden burial of the 26 African girls drowned on the Mediterranean Sea by Italian authorities nine days ahead of the slated date.
The Italian Embassy in Nigeria had informed the DG, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons NAPTIP, Barr Julie Okah-Donli, that the deceased ladies would be buried in Salerno, Italy on November 26, 2017.
Instead of the Italian Embassy to inform NAPTIP accordingly, it back-pedalled and hastily buried the bodies on November 17, 2017.
This position was made known at a joint news conference by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora alongside Mr Abdulrahim Shaibu, Director of Legal Services and Prosecution, who represented NAPTIP, Monday, in Abuja.
The duo revealed that, in a bid to get to the root of the matter, a letter has been dispatched to the Italian Embassy in Nigeria. Stating that, any further action will be predicted on the response by the Embassy
“Why were they hurriedly buried nine days before the date communicated to the DG NAPTIP by the Italian Embassy without any information to Nigerian Government,’’ they asked.
“Who were the pathologists that carried autopsy on them and what were the results of? Amongst many more, these are nagging questions begin for answers from the Italian Authorities.”
In a bid for interfaces between the Nigerian Authorities and their Italian counterparts, as they prepare for the burial on the Nov. 26, .Okah-Donli had jetted out to Italy. To her amazement, the burial had already taken place, nine clear days, before the scheduled date.
The brick bat took a dramatic twist, when the Italian Authority announced that, only three of the 26 girls are identified as Nigerians. This position contradicts the earlier claims of the Italian Authorities, who announced that, the 26 of the girls are Nigerians.
Tongues are beginning to wag on the real motive behind the hurried burial, especially, coming amidst suggestions that the girls were assaulted and ill-treated by their traffickers.
Dabiri and Shuaibu cautioned, on the mad-rush for European migration through illegal roots,“On the issue of Africans sold by Africans in Libya to Europe, as reported by the CNN in a report titled “People for sale; where lives are auctioned for $400”, this is totally unacceptable, despicable, and inhumane and should be condemned by anyone who is human and has blood running through their veins.”
They appealed to the African Union, European Union, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organization on Migration (IOM) and the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), to intervene in the matter and tackle this issue of slavery happening in Libya and also mete out sanctions to the perpetrators of such dastardly crime.
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