Italy to repatriate 700 Nigerian prisoners serving in various prisons across the country
Nigeria and Italy would soon conclude negotiations on a Prisoners Transfer Agreement to facilitate the return of over 700 Nigerian prisoners serving in various prisons across Italy. Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Fulvius Rusticu, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.
Rusticu said Nigerian and Italian officials would meet in the first week of July in Rome to finalise the agreement and possibly work out modalities for the immediate return of the prisoners.
The ambassador explained that under the agreement, Nigerian prisoners who qualify for the transfer must return home to complete their prison terms. He said that government was not obligated to help improve the condition of prisons in Nigeria as a pre-condition for signing the agreement.
“Each country is responsible
for its prisons; the logic in signing a PTA is that we think that it is
better for Nigerians and even Italians to serve their terms at home.
“Already to be in prisons is
not a nice experience, being abroad is even worse, so given the prisoner
the chance to return home is in their own interest.
“It is very rare for a prisoner to want to stay in a foreign country, we have cases of Italians serving in prisons abroad and they look forward, and are happy to return home,” he said.
According to official figures
from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, no fewer than 15,316 Nigerians are
in various prisons abroad with the largest number of 752 in the UK.
In January, Nigeria and the UK
signed a PTA to repatriate some of the 521 Nigerians currently serving
their terms in that country.
Prior to the signing, a major challenge on deportation had been the condition of prisons in the country.
But the UK had pledged one million pounds to Nigeria to help improve its prisons.