Nigerians, ex-commissioner differ on alleged racism in Italy
Nigerians in Italy have refuted the recent claims by a former Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs in Edo State, Osaze Osemwengie-Ero that the Italian government was mistreating Nigerians residing in Italy.
Osemwengie-Ero, who recently returned to Nigeria following his release from detention in Italy, also said over 300 Nigerians were unlawfully detained in that country’s prisons.
He also claimed that he was wrongly detained by the Italian government, adding:
“I was a victim of racial discrimination and manipulation of a corrupt prosecutor of the Italian justice system. Several Nigerians are in my situation in Italy.”
But Welfare Officer, National Union of Nigerian Associations in Italy (NUNAI), Michael Oputteh, in a statement in Benin City refuted the claims of the former Edo commissioner.
The group stressed that Italian authorities have never targeted Nigerians for any harassment or racial discrimination. Oputteh argued that if the Italian government and judiciary were corrupt and discriminate racially as Osemwengie-Ero had claimed, the Italian judiciary would not have released him from detention for lack of sufficient evidence on the allegations against him.
He said no fewer than 100,000 Nigerians currently live in Italy with some inter-married between the two countries, noting that this could not have been possible if Osemwengie-Ero claims were true.
“The Italian authorities have neither targeted Nigerians for harassment nor racially discriminated against them. Precisely, we have over 100,000 Nigerians living legally in Italy.”
“They are engaged in lawful businesses and some have even integrated into the Italian society and married Italians, while some Italians have also married Nigerians.
“Some have also acquired their citizenship. Definitely, if the Italian authorities were targeting Nigerians for maltreatment, how come the country gave Nigerians good abode in Italy? Why are the over 100,000 Nigerians not arrested and imprisoned?
“It is also surprising that Osemwengie-Ero accused the Italian judiciary of corruption and manipulation. The same corrupt judiciary tried him and freed him for lack of enough evidence, which means that the judiciary is fair and transparent,” he said.
Oputteh, therefore, cautioned Osemwengie-Ero against using his political ambition to jeopardise the relationship Nigerians have with Italians, noting that the former commissioner’s claims could cause misunderstanding between both countries.
He also urged the former commissioner to leave Nigerians in Italy in peace and stop using his political ambition to cause problem for them, stressing: “The lives of Nigerians in Italy is greater than his political ambition.”
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