We were treated worse than animals
By Gabriel Enogholase and Bose Adelaja
A batch of 164 Nigerians deported from Libya yesterday, arrived Lagos with tales of their horrible experiences in Libya in their aborted bid to cross to Europe for a better life. They arrived aboard a chartered BURAQ Airline 737 with Registration number 5A-DMG at the Cargo Wing of Murtala Muhammad International Airport at 12:34 a.m.
Our ordeals in Libya
One of the returnees, Mrs Vivian Francis aged 29, who was deported with a two weeks old baby, vowed never to embark on such journey again, saying that she was very happy to be back home again. Mrs Francis, who is from Orhionmwon local government area of Edo State, told Vanguard in an interview in Benin yesterday, that she gave birth to the “baby boy” who she named ‘Wealth’ at the United Nations camp in Libya before her deportation to Nigeria.
She disclosed that before she left Nigeria in October , 2016, she was involved in buying and selling, just as she added that her husband was still in Libya.
According to her, “there is too much suffering in Libya; we were treated worse than animals by the Libyans who showed no mercy to the blacks especially Nigerians. I paid over N1million to a Nigerian agent to facilitate my crossing from Libya to Italy before I was arrested and jailed for six months. Life in Libya prison is hellish and I will not wish my worst enemy to travel to Libya.
Another returnee, Mrs Loveth Ehis who disclosed that she travelled to Libya in 2016 in company of her husband, said that she spent over eight months in prison, adding that they were in camp preparatory to crossing to Italy when Libyan Police raided their camp and arrested them.
She said, “I was a Stylist before I left Nigeria. It was very harrowing travelling through the Sahara Desert and Niger Republic to Libya. Most Nigerians died while attempting to cross the desert. My experience in Libya was horrible and I don’t want to recall it. I paid over N200,000 to a Nigerian agent to embark on the journey. It is true that Nigerians were responsible for selling their own people into slavery, I can attest to that. We were beaten three times daily whenever we were being fed. I will not go there again”.
Another returnee, Timothy Iviruwe 21, from Delta State and a welder while narrating his experience in the Arab country, said. “I travelled in July 2017 to Libya enroute Italy. I travelled for 13 days through the Sahara Desert to Agades in Niger Republic without food or water. I was saved by the special Grace of God. I paid N250, 000 and another N25,000 for life jacket to the Nigerian agent before I was arrested and put in the United Nations Camp for two months before we were deported to Nigeria”.
In his own account, Onah David from Delta State who attributed his ordeal to the poor economic situation in the country said he came from a poor family and risked his life hoping to settle the medical bill of his visually impaired mother at home. He said, “The ill-fated journey cost me about N1.3m of which those I am indebted to are waiting. I am a plumber, I obtained Ordinary National Diploma OND, in Engineering at Delta State Polytechnic. We were on the Mediterranean Sea for 18 hours with 150 passengers on board. Many died in the process and the rest of us were imprisoned for six months before IOM came to our rescue and brought us back to Nigeria. I personally raised N600, 000 and my ailing mother sold her belongings and went borrowing to assist me unfortunately the journey nose-dived and creditors await me at home,”
Osondu Lucky, also from Delta State, said he was invited by his younger brother who was in Europe. According to him, “the journey cost me about N850,000 unfortunately we were detained from one prison to another before our repatriation. We were treated like slaves without medical attention and many Nigerians died”.
Emmanuel Kesh from Delta State, said he dropped out of University to embark on this ill-fated trip.
He expressed happiness on arrival and commended President Muhammadu Buhari on his directive to bring back all distressed Nigerians. He said “I learned that President Buhari has directed evacuation of all Nigerians from Libya, I thank the President for this because the boys (Nigerians) in Libya are really suffering and are being treated like animals. The President’s directive is very important because of the coming election in Libya as many Nigerians might be used as human shields in any clashe between the various groups in any post-election violence over there.
My decision is never to aspire to travel outside Nigeria. This is a bitter experience that I will not pray for anyone suffer in life,”
A representative of Edo State Task Force Against Human Trafficking Magadoji Nathaniel said about 600 Returnees were received by the State government in the last one month.
He said different acquisition skills have been put in place for them just as they were placed on 3 months stipends.
NEMA’s Southwest Zonal Coordinator, Alhaji Suleiman Yakubu representing the Director General of the Agency, Engr. Mustapha Maihajja who received the Returnees on behalf of the Federal Government thanked the IOM and the EU for their humanitarianism.
The Director General enjoined the Returnees to learn from the bitter lessons they learned in the course of their unpalatable sojourn and make better use of opportunities that abound in this country. He said, “There’s no where like home and Nigeria is a peculiar nation that God has endowed with bountiful resources that everyone can harness and prosper,” He implored the Returnees to make use of facilities available for self empowerment which federal and state governments are providing.