Mafia propaganda against Nigerians in Italy
Sir: Nigerians are in almost every country in this world. We are aware that some Nigerians commit criminal acts but that doesn’t mean every Nigerian is a criminal. Those involved in crime do not in any way represent the over 150 million Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora.
Due to a lot of injustice, racism, corrupt prosecutors, racial discrimination, manipulation of evidence, we tend to be blindfolded by the fake news about Nigeria and Nigerians that are being peddled out there by certain powerful forces. A common platform upon which the law is known to stand is that nobody is guilty until a competent court of law proves otherwise.
We remember Italy as a country which for many years has been fighting local Italian Mafia groups that have destroyed the Italian ethos and pathos of industry, the renaissance and art. In 1992, Italian Mafia groups allegedly bombed an express road, killing one of Italy’s famous Judges, Jovani Falconi, even with police security personnel on his convoy. It was one of the deadliest attacks linked to the Italian Mafia which prompted the European Union to sponsor and support this fight against the Mafia in Italy with European Union undeclared funds. Since then, a lot of European and Italian citizens have been arrested whether they are guilty or innocent and many are in prison.
Since their own people have been arrested for Mafia-related crimes, they moved on to arrest citizens of other countries like the Chinese, Albanians, etc. When that happened, the Chinese especially, and Albanian and other governments whose citizens were arrested by the Italians came to the defence of their citizens with the strong argument that their citizens are not Mafia members, and do not come from countries renowned for Mafia related crimes. These countries insisted that if their citizens had committed any crimes, they must be prosecuted on the weight of those crimes, but not to lump them under an umbrella of Mafia crime or of being Mafioso.
In the end thereof, the Italian government bowed to these arguments and thereby stopped the arbitrary arrests of Chinese, Albanian and other nationals resident in Italy.
But today, the Italian authorities have turned on Nigeria. They continue to arbitrarily arrest and lump every Nigerian they arrest in Italy over petty crime as Mafia criminals. They accuse them of Mafia crimes under the 416 BIS law supposedly to tackle crimes related to Mafia Association and other crimes relating to drugs and property, including extortions, robbery, murder, serious injuries, sexual exploitation, exploitation of prostitutes, Arms (Guns, Bombs etc, Using and Selling).
But contemporary facts indicate that Nigerians do not engage in Mafia related crimes and the ordinary Nigerian living abroad does not have the capacity and resources to commit such crimes in their country or abroad. Most just go about seeking to eke a living.
Nigerians are not Mafia people. If anyone commits a crime, let the person be put through a competent court of law to determine his or her case. Crime should not be transferable. The families of those Nigerians illegally detained and charged under Mafia related crimes in Italy are suffering. Black Life Matters.
Osaze Osemwingie Ero is former Culture commissioner in Edo State.