Nigerian Returnees From Libya Share Tales Of Woe, Loss

Nigerians, who had been stranded in Libya, arriving the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. Picture: NAN/Wasiu Zubair

161 Nigerians returned to the country voluntarily after their ill-fated sojourn in Libya in their bid to cross over to Europe.

According to the returnees, the plan was to travel to the North African country and move to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.

However, the search for the golden fleece and an escape from the skulduggery that was their lot while in Nigeria turned sour as several of the returnees told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) of the pains, degradations and abuse they got in Libya.

Bridget Akeamo, a returnee and indigene of Anambra State, said she embarked on the journey after all efforts to get a job post-graduation failed. She said her parents encouraged the plan as they felt she stood a better chance of attaining financial freedom if she gets into Europe.

She said she was arrested by immigration officials while trying to cross to Italy from Libya.

Bridget said, “Ever since then, I have been moved from one prison to another until I was taken to a detention camp in Tripoli.

“We were subjected to inhuman treatment while in prison, from the food we ate to the water we drank.

“Most of the young ladies in detention camp were repeatedly raped by Libyan officials; and if you refused their advances, it would be hell for you.

“Thank God I am back in Nigeria. I know all hope is not lost, but it is painful that I will begin from scratch again with my unborn child.”

Another returnee recounted his tale of being tricked by an agent popularly known as “Burger” who assured him of smooth sailing into Europe. When this failed, he got himself a job in a tile-producing firm in Libya.

He said, “I worked in a tile producing company and their salary was good, but unfortunately, I cannot save my money in the bank. I lived with other Nigerians. I dug a hole in the ground and hid my money in it.

“Unfortunately, one day, some Libyans came, kidnapped us and inflicted punishment on us. They asked us to call our relations back in Nigeria and tell them to send N300,000 as our ransom.

“The $200,000 that I saved disappeared; they moved us to another place until we got to a detention camp.”

He warned Nigerians against going to Libya as they are exposed to inhumane treatment and the ladies are sexually assaulted. This is an echo of the warning issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

“Nigerians should be discouraged from travelling to Libya because they don’t see us as human beings. Our ladies were dehumanised by Libyan officials. It is very painful.”

A source told NAN that most of the returnees sporting pregnancies were going to birth children without fathers.

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