Human trafficking, only lucrative business in Libya, say returnees

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Nigeria migrants evacuated from Libya by the Federal Government have described their experiences as “hellish,” saying human trafficking is the only lucrative business in Libya.

According to 23-year old Lewisa Comfort, 23, the Nigerians who collected money and took them to Libya usually betrayed them. “They did sell Nigerian ladies to Arab men for about N200,000 and the Arab men would use the girls as sex machines and for house cleaning jobs and with all these, we would only be given one dry bread to eat per day without water.”

Comfort who is six months pregnant disclosed that some of them paid between N600, 000 and N800, 000 to cross over to Italy but regretted that their hopes were dashed when they were left stranded in Libya.

Lewisa said when they arrived in Libya; some of them were arrested, while some were sold out. Others were moved from prison to prison with severe torture. “No water or food,” she said.

She lamented that she left the country due to frustration, saying the educational system in Nigeria is very costly with no jobs at the end.

“As a graduate, I was earning N8, 000 monthly where I was teaching and before the month ran halfway, the money would have been exhausted. At a point, I was tired and decided to go look for greener pastures.”

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Another returnee, Shedrack Lagarde, said he was happy to return to Nigeria alive, noting that six of his friends died in his presence due to hunger and severe torture. On his part, Harry Musa said, “it feels very good to be home,” adding, “One does not know what he has until he loses it. Now we know that there is no place like home.”

While disclosing that he ate only two spoonful of indomie for two months, he advised people not to travel to foreign countries illegally.

Meanwhile, the President of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), Dr. Ona Ekhomu, has advised the Federal Government to ensure proper vetting and documentation of the Nigerian returnees from Libya before releasing them to society.

This is to detect ISIS fighters who might be masquerading as Nigerian returnees. “Some of these people might have pledged Bayat (loyalty or oath) to ISIS. They need to be separated from those who migrated for economic reasons,” he added.

He observed that there was no way of knowing a Nigerian by face. And it is presumed that most of the returnees do not have travel documents. It is therefore, merely assumed that they are Nigerians.

In order to discern their purpose for migration, Ekhomu suggested that they should be questioned about the source of funds for their trip to Libya, while all information provided must be quickly investigated (verified) and each individual cleared to enter society.

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