As Nigerian citizens stranded in Libya keep returning to the state in their hundreds, a 19-year-old girl among them who did not want her name mentioned, has revealed that attempting to go to Europe through Libya is the worst kind of experience anyone could have.
In an exclusive interview with Saturday Telegraph in Benin the young girl from Edo State said the only regret she had is not making it to Europe, adding that she was persuaded by her friend to make the perilous trip, and that her friend died in the process.
“I’m happy coming back safely from Libya. But please I do not want to disclose my name. It was a very bitter experience that I do not want to talk about, I just thank God that I’m back to my country safely, she said.
“It is not as easy as you may imagine; so many Africans are dying in Libya in the name of travelling abroad for greener pasture.
“I left Nigeria in early 2017 with the help of one lady who claim to have been sponsoring people abroad. I don’t also want to reveal her name, but she is currently in one country in Europe. I cannot also say how long she has been in the business. She told me she was taking us to Germany, but we ended up in Libya. I spent so much.
“I do not really like recalling the whole trauma, I’m just happy that I came back home to meet my family and friends.
“I was learning a trade before I embarked on this journey through the persuasion of my female friend. When we left Benin in March this year, I did not tell my parents, I only told one of my brothers that I would be travelling to Lagos with my friend to see one lady who promised to assist me to get some money to start my business when I’m through learning the trade. “On getting to Lagos, I met a lot of girls from Edo, Delta and Rivers states.
We stayed in Lagos for three days before taking off to Kano and from there we commenced the journey to Libya. It was a bitter experience; I will not advise anybody I know to engage in such a hazardous trip. It is a journey of the survival of the fittest; on the way a lot of strange things happened which everybody knows about. “In Libya we were treated like slaves, taken to an unknown place where our sufferings continue.
The lady that took us there handed us over to some group of very wicked human beings; she kept telling us that we would soon cross over to Italy. The worst thing that happened to me was the day I slept with 18 men in a single night, it was an experience I can never forget in life.
In fact, Arabs are the most evil set of human beings on earth. After they used me, I was paid N15, 000 and my so: called sponsor took N10, 000 from it and gave me N5, 000. They gave me one type of drug before we started the business. You cannot cry, you cannot raise the alarm when you are locked up in a dark room. I thank God for my life, I never thought that I would live to see December.
“So many people are still there with no hope of leaving, and some of them are taken to unknown destinations. I want to thank our state government for coming to our rescue. Unfortunately, the girl I travelled with died. Nobody is talking about her. Each time I remember her, I cry. I will not embark on such a journey again. I saw hell in the hands of the Arabs.” Another returnee who identified herself simply as Joy who is from Edo North, but was born in Benin City, also narrated her tale to Saturday Telegraph. “I left Nigeria around April this year with the intention of going to Europe.
It is a pity that I ended my journey in a Libyan refugee camp. It is not an experience to talk about at all. I finished my secondary school some years earlier but because my parents are very poor, I decided to travel to Europe. I wanted to help my parents out of poverty, but my dream of going to Europe was aborted on the way. Now that I’m back home, I will continue to plan. I really want to travel to Europe. I’m the first child of my family and the truth is this country has nothing to offer us.
Those that have various degrees are on the streets, no jobs for them. The attempt to travel to foreign land is as a result of bad leadership. Over there, they accused us of so many things; they said that our country is very rich but that our leaders are busy carting away our money to other countries. They wanted to know why we were in their country trying to take the little they have. They do not like to set their eyes on Nigerians at all.” A father of five, Sylvester Agho, who also just came back from Libya said it was a journey of hell.
“I just want to thank God that I saw my country at last and I have regained freedom from those wicked people over there. It is not something to be remembered; now that I’m back to my fatherland, I will join the fight against human trafficking in this country,” Agho, also from Edo State, said. “I am happy because there is no place like home.
When you are in Nigeria, you have the freedom to move about without molestation but the moment you step out of Nigeria, you have lost your freedom. There is a great discrimination in Libya but in Nigeria, there is nothing like such. You can walk freely.” Agho who is among the 531 Edo indigenes deported from Libya to the state so far, said he would advise those still thinking of leaving the country to have a rethink and look for something meaningful to do to earn a better livelihood rather than endangering their lives in a foreign land.
He added: “I left this country on June 15 this year and I am back now which means that I spent five months and some weeks there but throughout that period, I was in hell. There was nothing good over there. And to those that are still going to Libya or nursing the ambition, my advice to them is for forget it.
There is nothing on earth that will make me to travel by land to Europe ever again.” Another returnee, Destiny Gabriel, recounts his story: “When I came back to Nigeria I was happy. I had joy, freedom because we lived in a place where there was no freedom. They do not have respect for human beings at all.
“Coming home, we were expecting to get something to start up our lives again because a lot of us spent our last money, sold our properties to leave this country in the hope of making a better life. If Nigeria is good and our government planned well for us, that urge to travel would not be there. “I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the federal and state governments to provide a means of livelihood for the returnees to prevent them from taking to crime.” For Miss Esosa Ediae, the joy of returning home is so much that all she wants to do is thank God for rescuing her. “I don’t want to say anything other than to thank God for my life and safe return to Nigeria. I was doing very well with my saloon business before a friend persuaded me to join the race to Libya in chase of a good life which never came. I sold my shop to embark on this trip, but all the same I’m very happy that I came back to my land, Edo State. “The federal and state governments should do something. They should not sleep.
They should not allow the youth to enter the streets. They should do something that will encourage us to know that our governments are really there for us. “They should give us money. We are in December now and there is nothing we will do to take care of our families. How are we going to make money to take care of our families this December? We need money to buy clothes for ourselves, to buy clothes for our families, to buy food at home.
Some of us do not even have money to rent an apartment. “I appreciate the governor (Godwin Obaseki) who said we should stay in this hotel (Motel Benin Plaza) for three days but after three days, what then happens to us? Some of us do not even have a place to stay after the expiration of the three days; what happen to us afterwards? Where do we go from here? That is the question I am asking the governor?” Abieyuwa Igue who was two months pregnant before she was convinced by her ‘madam’ to make the trip across the desert also recalls her near escape. “My name is Miss Abieyuwa Igue, I’m from Edo State. I left Nigeria in 2016. I was learning a trade before I was persuaded by my madam to travel out of Nigeria for a better life.
My experience there is nothing to write home about, but my greatest happiness is that I came back to Nigeria alive. I have a sister who travelled to Spain, she succeeded in her trip. I wanted to join her to make my parents happy and live a more comfortable life, but I ended up in the hands of those wicked Arabs. “It is a very pathetic story to tell. Before I left Edo State, I never knew that I was carrying a two-month pregnancy, I did not tell my boyfriend that I was pregnant, I did not even know until I got to Libya.
In fact, I will say that God was with me all the time I stayed in Libya. In my presence they took our girls away for rituals, rape, and all kinds of evil acts; they never touched me even though they sleep with our girls at will, not minding whether you are pregnant or not. “My plan was to go to Europe, but the moment my ‘pusher’ discovered that I was pregnant, she abandoned me in Tripoli.
I cannot thank God enough for His mercies upon me. Can you believe that I gave birth to my daughter in prison without any medical care? I was supposed to cross to Italy two days before my delivery, in fact it is God that did it for me not man. “For me, I have no regrets. The only regrets I have is the money that my poor mother wasted. I want to appeal to Nigerian government to quickly help other Nigerian citizens who are in different prisons in Libya. Some of them are in the underground cell, and the moment you enter into that cell, count yourself finished. So many of our young boys have died in that cell. I want to commend Edo State governor for the much he has done for us. We are sorry for the embarrassment.”