Illegal migrants from Nigeria account for 21 per cent of the total 171, 299 immigrants that braved the Mediterranean odds to arrive Italy in 2016.
Figures from the Italian Interior Ministry estimated the record of Nigerian arrivals at 36,000, with most of them claiming they were running away from Boko Haram insurgency or Niger Delta crisis.
The estimate was as at November 2016 and leads to an average 109 Nigerians daily arriving via the risky route
The Nigerian government was briefed by Italian authorities on this development late last year.
Sources said the Nigerian government regarded the high number of Nigerians seeking asylum abroad as “mind boggling and embarrassing”.
Government is of the view that only a few of the migrants could genuinely claim they were fleeing from Boko Haram insurgency and Niger Delta crisis.
“Most Nigerian migrants pictured in this milieu, are motivated by economic and pecuniary interests”, said a spokesman for Babachir Lawal, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“The dangers and rigours of the expeditions entail extreme negative prospects compared to the vibrant opportunities that Nigeria as a nation is still blessed with”, said the statement, signed by U. Onwuanukwo, on behalf of Mr. Lawal.
According to Frontex, the European Union border agency, some 181,000 migrants eventually arrived in Italy last year from North Africa, the highest number ever recorded. It was 20 per cent more than last year.