By Osahon Osahon
A former member of cabinet of Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Osaze Osemwengie-Ero, has explained that he was not arrested and detained in Italy for being in possession of $2 million belonging to the Governor.
Osemwengie-Ero who was Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs during the first tenure of Obaseki, returned to Benin City on Monday after over a year behind bar.
He said his detention has nothing to do with the State Government and Governor Obaseki.
He explained that he was on an official trip to Germany in 2019, for a meeting on the Benin artifact restitution campaign when he was arrested in Amsterdam and detained by the Italian Government.
It would be recalled that following his incarceration, divergent reasons were given for his arrest, with some alleging that he was caught with the sum of $2 million for the Governor, when he was arrested.
But, the ex-commissioner, who commended Governor Obaseki for his support and show of concern during his ordeal in Italy, alleged that he was a victim of racial discrimination and manipulation of a very corrupt prosecutor of the Italian Justice system.
According to him, “My arrest and detention had nothing to do with the Governor or Government of Edo State, though I was on an official trip to Germany for the return of the stolen artifacts.
“The arrest had nothing to do with money laundering. I wonder why people will say I was arrested with $2 million in my pocket or suitcase for the Governor.
“The Governor is too big for that as he was already rich before he became Governor of the State; he is an investment banker and can’t do that; that was primitive politics,” he said.
The former Commissioner also disclosed plan to lead a protest to Italian Embassy in the country, for release of over 300 Nigerian youths he alleged are illegally-detained in various Italian prisons for trumped-up charges on mafia-related offences.
He said: “We have over 300 Nigerian youths in Italian prisons illegally arrested and incarcerated for false allegations of mafia-related crimes.
“I have a list of all of them and I am making contact with their families; I made a promise to them that they will not be forgotten.
“We will campaign against the corrupt Italian Justice system and I am going to lead a protest to the Italian Embassy within the next four weeks.”
“The justice system in Italy is complex and corrupt and they manipulate the justice system because they know nobody cares about Nigerians.”