The Senate Committee on Diaspora and Non-Governmental Organizations as well as that on Foreign Affairs and Special Duties on Tuesday explained why they are yet to call for a public hearing over the 26 Nigerians who died on a Spanish warship on their way to Italy.
At a joint committee meeting held at the National Assembly, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Diaspora and Non-Governmental Organizations, Rose Okoh (PDP, Cross River) said both committees will need to partner with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons, NAPTIP, as well as the Ministry of Information to get more details about the victims.
“There are certain ground rules that must be in place before we can conduct a legislative hearing. Even the government does not know if they are truly Nigerians. As at the time they were buried, which the government has a problem with, only three of them had been identified,” she said.
She said that even though the Federal Government had set up an investigative panel under the Ministry of Justice, the committees need to have more information before foreign bodies will be invited.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and Special Duties, Monsurat Sunmonu (APC, Oyo Central), called on both committees to partner with the Ministry of Interior and Foreign Affairs.
“They will be able to provide the necessary information ranging from the names of the victims to finding out if they had passports to enter another country.
“It is the duty of the Italian government to provide the Federal Government with the information it needs. We need to do some preliminary work before public hearing”, she said.
The lawmakers said while the committees wait for the ministries of Information, Foreign Affairs and Information as well as NAPTIP, to relay their findings before fixing a date for hearing, some outfits and persons will be invited for the public hearing.
These include, Nigerian Immigration Service, the Special Adviser to the President on Diaspora and Foreign Matters, National Orientation Agency of Nigeria, Ambassadors of Spain, Italy, Libya, Germany, Niger and Chad, NAPTIP, Ministries of Information and Foreign Affairs among others.