President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed the support of the Italian Government in recovering and repatriating illegally deposited Nigerian assets in that country.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said Buhari said this, yesterday, when he received a delegation from the Italian Parliament, led by the Chairman Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Vito Petrocelli, at the State House, ABuja.
President Buhari said this in response to comments by the Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Stefano Pontesilli, who accompanied the delegation, when he conveyed the message of the Italian government to him.
We are willing to cooperate with your administration 100 per cent on illicit assets repatriation,” Dr. Pontesilli said earlier.
The president commended the Italian government for demonstrating “open-mindedness” and willingness to cooperate with Nigeria on the issue of repatriation of stolen funds.
Buhari, while acknowledging the good wishes of the Italian government in the aftermath of the February 23 presidential election, told the delegation that his second term will be to consolidate on the progress recorded in the last four years.
He also seized the opportunity to remind developed countries to do the needful about Lake Chad and how to revive it for all beneficiaries.
“Lake Chad is now 10 per cent of what it used to be. At least 30 million people around it benefit from fishing, farming and animal husbandry.
The drying up of Lake Chad has forced some people to defy the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean; in their bid to get to Europe,” he said.
President Buhari also thanked the Italian government for its policy of accommodating displaced persons, particularly African refugees and appreciated the Italian delegation for emphasising on the cordial relationship between Nigeria and Italy and the need to establish a “bilateral committee on friendship’’ that would identify areas of cooperation and work collectively.
Earlier, Petrocelli told Buhari that the delegation, which included Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Tony Chike Iwobi, a Nigerian and first African to be elected into the Italian parliament, were in the country to attend to the June 12 Democracy Day celebrations.
Petrocelli also congratulated the Nigerian leader on his re-election.
The president and the delegation, which also included Italian investors, discussed a range of bilateral and global issues including migration, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), infrastructure development, anti-corruption and the need to strengthen inter-parliamentary relationship between Nigeria and Italy.