Saturday, 2 December 2017

"We were sold twice by Nigerian"- Libya slave Returnees Narrates their Ordeal



Following the News making rounds about migrants and refugees detained in Libya being sold into slavery by their smugglers, it has now been uncovered that Nigerians based in the North African country, also sell their fellow citizens.

Earlier this week, 239 Nigerian were returned and on Thursday another set of 153 Nigerian migrants, including men, women, and children arrived from Libya aboard a Libyan chartered flight due to the ongoing slave trade crisis.

Their return was facilitated by the Federal Government Of Nigeria, including the IOM and it was funded by the European Union project.

Since the beginning of 2017, IOM-facilitated repatriation has helped in bringing back 5,578 Nigerian migrants, who were stranded in Libya.

Speaking to PUNCH, one of the returnees, 26-year-old Odion Saliu, a hairdresser from Edo State, said she was kidnapped and handed over to a Nigerian, who forced her to call her mother.

According to her, her mother in Benin paid N200, 000 but she was again sold by the same Nigerian for 3,000 dinars (about N794, 000).

Saliu explained that the Nigerians spoke Pidgin English and some Nigerian languages.

She said, “When I was kidnapped with others and held for some weeks, the Arabs asked if I wanted to be taken to a Nigerian and I readily said yes. I was very happy that I was going to someone from my country. But it was a lie.

“The Nigerian they took me to locked me in a cell and told me to call my mother and ask for N60, 000. The man said he would sell me to a connection house if my family did not get the money. I called to inform my mother and the trafficker who facilitated my journey from Nigeria.

“But the trafficker spoke with them on the phone and told them the amount they demanded was too small. They increased it to N200, 000. My mother paid into an account after they provided her with the account number over the phone.

“The Nigerian said if I wanted to cross the sea, I had to pay him again. But when we got to the seaside, he sold me again.”

Another Edo State indigene, Sunday Anyaegbunam, left Nigeria along with his wife in April.

He said during their nine-day journey through the desert, they were sold twice by Nigerians.

According to him, when their Nigerian “burger” (trafficker) sold them to another set of Libyan traffickers at Agadez, Niger, the traffickers sold him and his wife to a Nigerian who took them to Sabha, Libya, where they were separated in different cells.

“We were made to contact our families on the phone and I had to ensure the payment of N400, 000 for my release and N300, 000 for my wife,” Anyaegbunam said.

He added “The Nigerians selling people in Libya are more wicked than many of the Arabs. I have never seen people so heartless as the Nigerians who bought and sold me.

“There are many of them in Agadez and Sabha, who are making so much money from selling their own people. But there are other West Africans doing the business too.

“When you approach them and say, ‘Please, my brother, help me.’ They would tell you, “No brother in the jungle.”

A 25-year-old woman, Esosa Osas, who was in Libya for six months, said she also met many Nigerians selling their countrymen.

“You dare not talk to them, else they would beat you and lock you up. They sell women for 5,000 dinars and men for 4, 000 dinars. I noticed that the connection houses were also controlled by Nigerian women.”

All these accounts were corroborated by 35-year-old Harrison Okotie who lived in Libya for three years until his repatriation.

“Nigerians and Libyans are doing the business like they are one big happy family,” he said.

According to reporrts, most of the migrants who arrived Nigeria on Thursday were from Edo State.

An official of Edo State task force on illegal migration, Mr. Okoduwa Solomon, also revealed to PUNCH, that in the last one month, his team has been to the airport at least six times to take their indigenes repatriated from Libya back home.

He said, “The first process is to take them through counselling, then we profile them.

“After that, we put them in a home that the state government has provided for the returnees. The Edo State Government is paying each of the returnees from the state a stipend.

According to him,”they are going to undergo a training in agriculture, poultry, fishery and others to make them useful to themselves and the system.”

Meanwhile, the Head of African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has revealed that over 400,000 Nigerians and others are still stranded in Libya.

No comments:

Post a Comment