Italy’s ambassador to Nigeria, Stefanou Pontesilli, says that as many as 1,500 Nigerians are serving prison sentences for various offenses in Italy.
Pontesilli who made the disclosure in an interview with reporters in Abuja said the number is huge.
“In Italy, we have about 1,500 Nigerians in prison for various offenses. It’s a lot.”
“We sometimes send them back to Nigeria once they have finished their terms because they have not behaved well,” he said.
However, he denied reports that Italy sometimes sends Nigerian migrants from Italy to Libya.
“We never sent anyone to Libya, not even one person. Some Nigerians are stranded in Libya because they have never been able to enter Italy, but all those who went to Italy have never been returned.
“All Nigerians who have reached Italy and behave well have no problem.”
“None of them even heard of being sent back to Libya,” he said.
According to him, thousands of Nigerians unable to move from Libya to Italy have been stranded in Libya.
“Thank you for the help of the European Union and the International Organization for Migration who are slowly repatriating them to Nigeria,” he said.
The envoy said relations between Italy and Nigeria remained stronger.
He said Italy had also done a lot to try to help Nigeria maintain security and stability.
“This is very important for Italy, the stability and security of Nigeria is our main consideration.
“We believe that without a stable country, there can be no development.”
“That’s why we strongly support President Muhammadu Buhari in trying to build a strong, safe and stable Nigeria.”
“For us, this is the country’s number one priority, we are doing everything we can to support that,” he said.
The envoy revealed that the Italian government had been involved in training many Nigerian officials of the army, police and immigration.