from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (APA / CAJ News) – NIGERIA appears headed for a collision course with Italy after authorities buried 26 girls alleged to have been sexually abused and murdered in the Mediterranean Sea.
Two men were arrested in connection to the deaths of the Nigerian girls, mostly aged between 14 and 18.
However, Nigeria officials expressed surprise and shock over Italy’s “sudden” burial nine days ahead of the slated date.
Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, and Abdulrahim Shaibu, representative of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), expressed government’s displeasure.
It is reported the Italian Embassy earlier indicated to NAPTIP that the burial would take place in Salerno, Italy on November 26 but went ahead last Friday.
“Why were they were hurriedly buried nine days before the date communicated to the DG NAPTIP by the Italian Embassy without any information to Nigerian Government,” Nigerian officials asked.
Shaibu is currently in Italy to engage with the authorities on the issue.
Information available indicates that three of the girls are said to be identified as Nigerians amid allegations the girls might have been assaulted and ill-treated by their traffickers.
Nigeria has appealed to the African Union, European Union, United Nations High Commission for Refugees, International Organisation on Migration and Economic Community for West African States to intervene in the matter and tackle the issue of slavery in Libya, where the deceased were in transit to Europe.
“They must mete out sanctions to the perpetrators of such heinous crime,” Dabiri-Erewa and Shaibu jointly stated.
Comment could not be obtained from Italian authorities.
– CAJ News / APA