The federal government of Nigeria has expressed its disappointment over the burial of the 26 migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean sea.
At a news conference on Monday, senior special assistant to the president on foreign affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said the Italian embassy told the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) that the burial would take place on November 26.
The victims were buried on November 17.
Dabiri-Erewa, alongside Abdulrahim Shuaibu, a representative of NAPTIP, said a letter expressing the government’s position on the matter had been sent to the Italian envoy in Nigeria.
“It was shocking to watch the burial of these migrants on television… the information from the Italian embassy to National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) was the fact that these girls would be buried on November 26,” he said.
“We are asking the Italian authorities, and we have communicated a letter through the Italian embassy here in Nigeria, why these girls were buried nine days before the agreed date.
“Secondly, where are the results of the pathological tests that were done, who conducted the DNA tests and how do we now identify that all 26 girls were Nigerians?
“From available information coming from Italy as I speak, about three girls can be identified to be Nigerians.
“Did Italy get the permission to go ahead with the burial of these girls no matter their nationalities?
“We appeal to the Italian authorities, we are going to take this up at the highest diplomatic level and we are going to get answers.”
She said that 64 migrants were involved in the accident with many bodies unaccounted for and more questions to be answered by the Italian authorities.
The president’s aide added that the director-general of NAPTIP was currently in Italy working out further communications on the next step to take.
“The fact is at the other end, they are not willing to save irregular migrants any more so it is going to get tougher and dangerous,” she said.
“Yes, the administration should do the needful but the most important thing is awareness.”