Reprieve may have come for the over 300 Nigerians languishing in Italian prisons as the Federal Government has promised to take up their cases with the authorities.
The Chairman/CEO of the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, gave the assurance when she received former Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, Mr Osaze Osemwingie-Ero.
Osemwingie-Ero is planning to lead a protest to Italian Embassy for the release of the over 300 Nigerians illegally detained on trumped up charges.
Persecondnews recalls that Osemwingie-Ero was arrested by Interpol in Amsterdam and illegally detained by the Italian Government, but eventually released after 18 months in Italian prison after he was found not guilty of being a leader of a mafia gang.
Abike-Dabiri assured that her office will work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Office of the Attorney General of the Federation through NIDCOM’s legal department to bring justice to those wrongly detained.
She said: “Again we commiserate with you on what you went through. You were our focal person on diaspora in Edo state. So again, sorry about what you went through because eventually you were freed of the crime they claimed you committed. But the key thing is what you saw in prison.
“According to you, there are 300 Nigerians in Italian prison for what you believe they didn’t commit. First thing we are going to do, is to write a formal letter and take it up with the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
“There are many cases that the AGF has handled that has to do with persons in diaspora being maltreated.
“Definitely our legal department will take this up as a matter of urgency with the Attorney General, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to look strictly into this case. And indeed, if there are so many Nigerians languishing in Italian prisons for years for a crime they didn’t commit, we can’t just watch and see that happen.
“We will continue to fight for the rights of Nigerians and we will continue to appeal to them to obey the laws of other countries.”
On his part, Osemwingie-Ero said he wanted NIDCOM to be involved because of its track records in obtaining justice for Nigerians that suffer injustice abroad.
According to him, the protest will begin in Lagos, then to London if there is no favorable response, then to European countries of Brussels, Germany and the Netherlands.
Osemwengie-Ero, stressed that he was a victim of racial discrimination and manipulation of a corrupt prosecutor of the Italian justice system as he maintained that he was on an official trip to Germany in 2019 for a meeting on the Benin Artefacts Restitution Campaign, when he was arrested in Amsterdam and illegally detained by the Italian authorities.
He further maintained his innocence, saying his arrest and incarceration had nothing to do with money laundering.
“I was not arrested with $2 million in my suitcase for the governor, neither was I arrested in France by the Interpol,” he clarified.