Employees of the cemetery prepare the funeral of 26 teenage migrant girls found dead in the Mediterranean in early November, before a funeral service on November 17, 2017. The bodies of the victims were found floating in the water by a Spanish military ship and brought to Italy on November 3 after two separate rescue operations. / AFP PHOTO
The Federal Government of Nigeria has expressed surprise and shock over the sudden burial of the 26 Nigerian girls drowned in the Mediterranean Sea by Italian authorities nine days ahead of the slated date.
The Italian Embassy earlier indicated to the DG NAPTIP that the burial will take place in Salerno, Italy on Nov. 26, 2017, but however went ahead with the burial on November, 17th2017.
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, representative of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons in Abuja on Monday.
A statement by the Media aide to Hon. Dabiri –Erewa, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, stated that a letter to the effect had been sent to the Italian envoy in Nigeria.
“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
The DG of NAPTIP is currently in Italy to engage with the Italian authorities as they prepare for the burial on the Nov. 26.
Also, information available indicates that only three of the girls are said to be identified as Nigerians amidst allegations that the girls may have been assaulted and ill-treated by their traffickers.
“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 heinous crime.