A former Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Osaze Osemwingie-Ero, on Friday, disclosed that over 300 Nigerian youths are languishing in Italian prisons for trumped-up charges on mafia-related offences.
Speaking during an interview on Arise TV, Osemwingie-Ero said he learnt about the plight of the innocent young Nigerians during his wrongful detention in Italy as a result of a “very corrupt and complex system.
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“We have over 300 Nigerian youths who are unjustly being held in prisons because of these mafia-related crimes; they didn’t commit the crime.”
According to him, the youths are held and committed to maximum prisons in Italy because they do not have the resources to access an independent lawyer.
He explained that because they don’t have money to take lawyers; the prosecutor gives them government lawyers that he uses to manipulate them.
He further called for the stakeholders’ collaboration of all stakeholders including the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and the media, among others to rescue the youths.
“As a senior government official, there was no support from the Nigerian government during my ordeal in Italy.
“I have spoken to the chairperson of Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission, who is very proactive and vocal, and she’s ready to work with us to ensure that those people are released,” he said.
The ex-commissioner explained that he was on an official trip to Germany, in 2019, to have a meeting with the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, on the Benin artefact restitution campaign when he was arrested in Amsterdam and illegally detained for over a year in Italy.
He added that he was a victim of racial discrimination and manipulation of a very corrupt prosecutor of the Italian justice system.