Nigeria and Italy would soon conclude negotiations on a Prisoners Transfer Agreement (PTA) to facilitate the return of over 700 Nigerian prisoners serving in various prisons across Italy.
Mr Fulvius Rusticu, the Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, made this known ,Thursday, in Abuja.
Rusticu said Nigerian and Italian officials would meet in the first week of July in Rome to finalise the agreement and possibly work out modalities for the immediate return of the prisoners.
The ambassador explained that under the agreement, Nigerian prisoners who qualify for the transfer must return home to complete their prison terms.
He said that government was not obligated to help improve the condition of prisons in Nigeria as a pre-condition for signing the agreement.
“Each country is responsible for its prisons; the logic in signing a PTA is that we think that it is better for Nigerians and even Italians to serve their terms at home.
“Already to be in prisons is not a nice experience, being abroad is even worse, so given the prisoner the chance to return home is in their own interest.
“It is very rare for a prisoner to want to stay in a foreign country, we have cases of Italians serving in prisons abroad and they look forward, and are happy to return home,’’ he said.
According to official figures from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, no fewer than 15,316 Nigerians are in various prisons abroad with the largest number of 752 in the UK.
In January, Nigeria and the UK signed a PTA to repatriate some of the 521 Nigerians currently serving their terms in that country.
Prior to the signing, a major challenge on deportation had been the condition of prisons in the country.
But the UK had pledged one million pounds to Nigeria to help improve its prisons. (NAN)