President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed the support of the Italian government to help recover and repatriate illegally deposited Nigerian assets in foreign countries.
President Buhari spoke on Monday when he received a delegation from the Italian parliament led by Senator Vito Petrocelli, Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, at State House, Abuja.
The Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Stefano Pontesilli, who accompanied the delegation, while conveying the message of the Italian government, had told the Nigerian leader: “We are willing to cooperate with your administration 100 percent on illicit assets repatriation.”
Responding, President Buhari commended the Italian government for demonstrating “open-mindedness” and willingness to cooperate with Nigeria on the issue of repatriation of stolen funds.
The president, 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 in office would consolidate on the progress recorded in the last four years in the country.
He also used the occasion to remind developed countries to do the needful on reviving the Lake Chad.
“Lake Chad is now 10 percent 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,” Buhari said.
President Buhari thanked the Italian government for its policy of accommodating displaced persons, particularly African refugees.
The president also appreciated the Italian delegation for emphasising 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.
Senator Petrocelli had told President Buhari that the delegation, which included Senator Tony Chike Iwobi, Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, a Nigerian and first African to be elected into the Italian parliament, was in the country to attend to the June 12 Democracy Day celebrations.
He 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.
By Brendan Umoren