By Jite Eriabie
The Federal Government has set up a ministerial committee to examine the circumstances surrounding the death of 26 teenage Nigerian migrant girls found dead in the Mediterranean Sea early this month.
The girls were found on a Spanish ship and eventually buried in Italy by authorities there on Friday after an autopsy. The autopsy found that the victims died of drowning.
According to the autopsy carried out in Salerno in southern Italy, 25 of the girls died of asphyxiation in the water, when the inflatable dinghy they were travelling on sank.
Reports further revealed that one of them suffered a wound to her liver, two of the dead were pregnant and the autopsies found no recent trace of physical or sexual violence.
The bodies of the victims were found on Spanish military ship and brought to Italy on November 3 after two separate rescue operations. In both cases, dozens of other migrants, mostly men, were also rescued after they tried to cross to Europe from Libya.
According to a statement from the Presidency, “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has kept it sights on the issue and had briefed the Presidency on a regular basis since the time the tragic incident came to limelight.”
The statement said the government committee is “expected to also examine the reports of incidents of the sale of Nigerian citizens through slavery and report to the Federal Executive Council within week.”
The committee has as members the ministers of Women Affairs, Youths, Foreign Affairs; the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora. The committee is chaired by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the federation.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, told reporters that he was aware of the setting up of the committee.
Nigerians, have, however, continued to criticise the government’s response to the tragedy on Twitter.
Many Nigerians frowned at the failure of the Federal Government to send a representative to the burial.
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