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The federal government has set up a cabinet committee to examine the circumstances of the death of 26 teenage Nigerian migrant girls found dead in the Mediterranean in early November.

NAN reports that a presidency official, who preferred to remain anonymous, confirmed this development on Friday in Abuja, in a reaction to allegations that the government had not reacted to the death of the girls believed to have drowned at sea.

The official said the ministry of foreign affairs had kept its sights on the issue and had briefed the presidency on a regular basis since the time the tragic incident came to limelight.

According to NAN, the committee is being chaired by Abubakar Malami, the minister of justice and attorney-general.

The 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.

When contacted, Garba Shehu, the senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, confirmed the inauguration of the committee.

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NAN recalls that the bodies of the Nigerian migrant girls, aged between 14 and 18, were brought to the southern Italian port of Salerno by the Spanish ship Cantabria on November 3.

The girls were initially believed to have been abused and killed.

However, autopsies on the bodies of the girls, the result of which was released on Friday, indicated that the girls died from drowning after the dinghies they were travelling in sank.

NAN gathered that arrests had been made by the Italian government in connection with the incident while Italy’s southern city of Salerno held a mass funeral for the 26 girls.

A Roman Catholic bishop and a Muslim Imam both said prayers at the simple ceremony in the southern city of Salerno, with 26 wooden coffins laid out on a stone dais.

Reports indicated that only two of the girls were identified.

“It is very likely that these girls were victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation,” said Federico Soda, director UN migration agency for the Mediterranean.

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