By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
Nigeria and Italy are closed to finalising agreements on mutual legal assistance, transfer of prisoners and extradition.
A statement by Mr. salihu Isah, the spokesman to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) issued in Abuja yesterday said Nigeria was committed to strengthening cooperation with Italy on justice reforms.
The agreements are aimed at fighting human trafficking, criminality and migration offences, terrorism and corruption.
Isah said the AGF met with an Italian delegation led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Paolo Gentlioni Silveri, last Thursday.
He said the meeting was to finalise the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen cooperation between the judicial systems of the two nations.
He quoted the justice minister as emphasising the need for effective cooperation in order to reduce the incidents of human trafficking and other associated crimes.
According to him, the minister admitted that unemployment in Nigeria had been a major cause of incessant migration of Nigerians to Italy.
The justice minister informed the Italian delegation that agreements between Nigeria and Italy had already been negotiated and was ready for execution in the following areas: Mutual Legal Assistance, Transfer of Prisoners and Extradition Agreements.
He therefore urged them to identify the timeline and venue for the execution of the agreements.
The minister expressed appreciation to the Italian government support to its Nigerian counterpart, in particular, as well as the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) requesting further assistance to strengthen NAPTIP skills and capacity.
In his response, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Paolo Gentlinoni Silveri, affirmed that they were perfectly aware of the connection between criminality, human trafficking and migration.
He advised that the Attorney General of the Federation could seize the opportunity to decide on the finalisation of the agreements, on the three issues raised at the meeting.
He further stressed that they were in the Ministry to seek for collaborative efforts with Nigerian government in the following areas: to strengthen political, economic relationship between Nigeria and Italy, the need to manage migration especially, migration through Nigeria to Libya and to Italy and also the need to control human trafficking.