In one month, the Edo State Government has received 1,100 indigenes who were deported from Libya. They left the state for Europe through Libya in search of greener pasture. Many of them died on the way, many others were sold as slaves, while many who were held in Libyan prisons were severely tortured. Some of the returnees in Benin spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday about their harrowing experiences.
I was sold for N300,000 – Harrison Okotie (35)
A friend of mine sold the idea of travelling to Europe to me and my sister, who we travelled together with, assisted me with some money. We paid the traffickers N600, 000 each to take us to Libya. When we got to Libya, we were arrested and sold to Arabs at N300,000 each. I never knew I was being sold because they would tell you that, they were taking you to cross over to Italy. It is only when you reach their destination that you would know that you were sold as slave.
From that moment, you would be under his rules and regulations until you are able to pay double the amount he claimed to have paid for your freedom. I was tortured daily, they even stabbed me on my back for not being able to pay a ransom. They will tell you to control your family at home to bring money, but if the money was not forthcoming you would face severe torture.
A Nigerian was shot in the presence of our ambassador for attempting to join the queue to register for deportation. Four people died in my presence due to torture. Our suffering in the hands of the Arab increased when we started telling the United Nations that we wanted to go home. The Arabs would always ask us to tell the UN that we needed food and clothes but we would tell them that we wanted to go home due to the way and manner we were being tortured. By the time the UN personnel leave, it would be 24 hours torture and we would be denied the loaf of bread we were given each. Even if I am given the opportunity again, I will never go to any Arab country. I left my wife and two children here in search of a greener pasture only to face torture.
I was shot for attempting to register for deportation – Amos Oghogho (25)
I left Benin on June 24 this year and within a week I was in Libya. While there, I was working in a car wash in Saba city. My suffering started when I had to leave for Subuata town because of too many kidnappings and slavery. As soon as I got to Subuata, war broke out between militants. As I was going to work, the police arrested me and took me to prison. Nigerians at the prison were more than 1,000, and because of the number, we were moved to a prison in the desert. There they used to drug our food because as soon as you eat that food, you go to sleep immediately. For the three months I stayed in prison I never had a bath. They were using us to trade because as soon as they release you after paying ransom, another group would arrest you and the torture continued. All the months I spent in prison, it was only macaroni they fed us and it was once a day. I was shot while trying to register to be deported back to Nigeria. When I wanted to join the queue, the police asked me to go back, but as I was explaining to him my intention, another one shot me on the hand. They later took me to a hospital where they performed surgery on the hand. I can never advise anybody to go to Libya.
I saw my twin brother shot dead for not being able to pay ransom – Abel Osifo Christopher (36)
My destination was Italy and not Libya but I was not able to cross before we were bundled into prison. The journey cost me N680,000. I sold my car to raise the money and move on June 13, this year. My experience in Libya was disastrous and painful: life there was full of agony and sorrow and to worsen it, I lost my twin brother there. They shot him because we could not pay the ransom on time.
When they kidnapped us, they asked us to pay 5000 dinar (N500, 000). However, before we could raise the money from Nigeria, they shot and killed him. Many Nigerians died in Libya. I regretted going to Libya and can’t even advise anybody to go.
I regret going to Libya – Abieyuwe Igue (24)
I left Nigeria last year not knowing that I was pregnant. I spent one year four months and my baby is 10 months old now. My intention was to go to Europe through Libya but I was not able to cross before we were caught. I paid N400,000 to get to Libya. I was a stylist here but decided to go to Europe for a greener pasture.
I was beaten severally for no just cause, but never sexually assaulted. I will never go to Libya again because it is too risky and I regret going there.
I’m happy to be home Josphine – Ajagbor (33)
I left with my son of three years to Libya in June this year. When they arrested us they took us to prison and we were living on macaroni and bread daily. The food was cooked without salt and pepper and we only ate twice a day. My son had to get used to the suffering too. I was a caterer before I left Nigeria.
Culled from Daily Trust
John Bosco Ugochukwu is a web developer, poet, philosopher, educationist, social media developer & practitioner. He is a Senior Content Developer at Anambra City Media.