The Federal Government has disagreed with Italy, over what it describes as the hasty burial of the 26 Nigerian girls who were found dead on the Mediterranean Sea.
The bodies of the girls were found on a sinking vessel on the Mediterranean about two weeks ago and there were reports that they might have been sexually abused before they were murdered. The alleged hasty burial is suggesting a cover-up.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, told journalists in Abuja yesterday, that the Italian Embassy had earlier indicated to the Director General, National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons that the burial of the girls would take place in Salerno, Italy on November 26, 2017.
However, the Italian authorities, she said, went ahead with the burial last Friday, without informing the Nigerian government, adding that the NAPTIP director was currently in Italy to engage with the Italian authorities ahead of the scheduled burial date.
The SSA, who addressed newsmen alongside a NAPTIP representative, Mr. Abdulrahim Shaibu, explained that a protest letter had been sent to the Italian envoy in Nigeria over the matter.
She said, “Why were they (the bodies) hurriedly buried nine days before the date communicated to the DG, NAPTIP by the Italian Embassy without any information to the Nigerian Government?”
“Why the rush to bury the bodies without carrying out a post-mortem to determine the causes of death?”
Dabiri-Erewa said information indicated that only three of the girls were identified as Nigerians, noting that the identities of the other victims had yet to be ascertained before they were interred.
She also pointed out that another issue of concern was that the victims’ families might have wanted them buried in their countries of origin.
She said, “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 inhuman and should be condemned by anyone who is human and has blood running through their veins.”
The presidential aide appealed to the African Union, the European Union, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, International Organisation on Migration and the Economic Community for West African States, to intervene in the matter and tackle the issue of slavery happening in Libya.
“The perpetrators of this heinous crime should also be sanctioned.”