It seems the story of r*pe, torture, killing, slave trading and every conceivable form of maltreatment of Nigerians in Libya is unending. For the latest batch of returnees, it was a story of survival of the fittest.
File photo: Libyan returnees
29-year-old Happiness Ago, who was among the 387 Nigerians who returned the country from Libya on Tuesday night, said he and many other Nigerians had to drink and eat animal leftovers in order to survive in the desert.
According to New Telegraph, he said: “Some of those who travelled with us through the desert died of thirst. Three of my friends died because they couldn’t stand the desert sun. To survive in the desert, we drank water drank by animals and ate foods animal owners kept in animal bowls.
"While drinking and eating animal foods, we didn’t care about the danger to our health. We just wanted to survive,” he said, adding that after they survived the nightmarish desert journey, they reached a place called Sebrata, where they all gathered and started putting finishing touches to plans to cross over to Europe.
He recalled: “We were there when the United Nations officials came and arrested us. They took us to a camp called ‘Gaarian’. The place is a large compound where they didn’t feed us.
"The water they gave us was salty. We were there for two months without catching a glimpse of the sky.
“What surprised me the most was that, some Libyan mercenaries would come into the camp, under the guise of taking detainees to hospital and we wouldn’t see those people again.
"The first time they came, they took 10 Nigerians and till date, we have not seen any of them.”
Another Nigerian returnee, Agade Samson, from Delta State, said his intention was not to go to Libya, but to use it as a transit country to get into Germany.
He said: “I travelled to Libya in October this year through Niger Republic. I spent N700,000 to travel there, through the assistance of an agent. I’m an automobile electrician. I only wanted to get to Europe to work and expand my business back home.
"I was not going there to stay. I was walking on the street when policemen arrested and took me to detention camp.
“It was hell in the detention camp. Libyan soldiers were selling ladies to hoteliers. We later learnt that the girls were being used for prostitution. They were also being forced to repay money used in buying them from the detention camp. I thank God I’m back in Nigeria.”
Stanley Solomon from Delta State also narrated his own tale of woes. He said he left Nigeria on July 28 on road, after which he and others spent two weeks in the desert, before they arrived in Libya on August 20.
He said: “I went to Libya because I couldn’t get a job after my graduation in 2015. I graduated from Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro. I studied Business Administration.
"Before I went to higher institution, I had learnt bricklaying. After my graduation, life generally became difficult. That was part of the reason I decided to go to Libya to work and raise money.”
Solomon added that it was his friends, who he discussed his financial challenges with that advised him to go to Libya in search of greener pastures. The idea was for Solomon to take his bricklaying practice down to Libya.
He said: “I thought it was a good option; that was why I left for Libya. It was cheaper for me to travel to Libya by road. Some drivers, who usually take people to cross the desert, always rape Nigerian girls at gunpoint.
"While we were in detention camp, the Libyan soldiers will come into the camp, pick ladies and sell them to Nigerian and Ghanaian nationals. The buyers would use these ladies for prostitution.
"The ladies would then be forced to sleep with many men, in order to repay the Nigerians and Ghanaians’ money used in buying them.
"The money, however, would be tripled. It is modern day slavery. I thank God that I’m back in Nigeria. In fact, I regretted going to Libya.”
A pastor with the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry, Benin, Frank Osemudiame, said that he went to Libya, with the plan to cross to Germany, where his sister promised to establish a church for him.
He said: “I travelled to Libya on June 4. When we got to the desert, we rented 21 buses to take us to Libya.
"We were 33 in each of the bus. In total, we were 313 passengers. Out of the 313 passengers that travelled through the desert, only 63 survived. Many died because of the weather condition. It was my sister living in Germany who asked me to come through Libya.
"I spent N500,000 to get to Libya. I regretted going there because Libya is a forsaken land.”
A nursing mother, Faith Imade, who had her baby in the detention camp, described her experience as hellish. Imade disclosed that she had her baby in the midst of thousands of people.
She said: “The person who took me to Libya promised to take me to Italy. But she abandoned six of us; she promised us that somebody would come and take us to our destinations. Unfortunately, the person didn’t come; that was how we took our fate into our hands. When I was leaving Nigeria for Libya, I never knew I was pregnant.
“It was after I was arrested and taken to the detention camp that I knew I was pregnant. I never attended ante natal. It was some of my friends that took delivery of my baby. In short, it was God that took care of my daughter and I. I suffered a lot.
"My daughter and I were in the prison for 10 months before the United Nations officials came on inspection of the camp. They saw those of us who had babies and took us to the hospital. It was there that we were first given medical attention.”
Another nursing mother, Linder Ambrose, 21, like Imade, said that her friends took her delivery. She said: “Libya was not my destination, but we got trapped there. When I went into labour at the camp, ladies in the detention camp assisted me with the delivery.
"None of them had experience in taking delivery. There were no medical personnel on ground. I was taken to a corner in the camp, covered with a wrapper and right there, had my baby. My daughter is now three months.
"We’re both in good condition. I thank God we are back in Nigeria.”