About 70 per cent of the total population of Nigerians who returned from Libya were from Edo State. Benin City, its capital, is the place to be to have a feel of the horror meted out to Nigerians who attempted to use Libya as a transit to Europe. In this report, some of the returned victims shared their horrible experiences in Libya with Saturday Tribune’s BANJI ALUKO in Benin.
I paid N1million to Nigerian agent–Cynthia Alfred, 24, female
I am 24 years old. I am from Delta State but I was born and brought up in Benin and my family members are here in Benin. I paid N1million to a Nigerian agent who told me that he would take me to Germany. I first gave him N600,000 and I later paid him N400,000.
The Arabs don’t have mercy for anyone. Whether you are woman or man, they molest and rape you. Sometimes they come to our halls and say, “sogo, sogo, sogo, Nigeria people sogo.” That means that the girls should come out. They take the girls out and sleep with them or rape those who did not agree to their demands. The most horrible thing is that they don’t even sleep with the girls in the right place, but in the anus.
I was not told these things that I am telling you; I saw them with my eyes. I saw many people who died as well. Sometimes their police would burst our camps and fire shots in the air. Of course, commotion will follow and people will start running helter-skelter . Some women, who lost their children in the process, never saw them. The experience was very horrible. I will not wish my enemy to undertake the journey to Libya. For those girls thinking about it, they should just stop now when it is not late yet.
I was kidnapped —Beauty Osadebamwen, 26, female
They tranke me, meaning I was kidnapped. Sometimes they use electric shock to kidnap us. They will now ask you to bring money to cross to Europe. You don’t have a choice than to pay the money. I paid N100,000. There is a way they convert the money to dinar. If you cannot pay the money, you remain there and they sleep with you until they are tired of sleeping with you.
I nearly made it across the sea. That day, we were on a boat on the sea when they started saying water casora, meaning water is bad. I was close to the international sea but we had to turn back because the wave was too much that day. They had to return the boat to Sabasere in Libya.
Arabs don’t want black at all. For instance, if you are at the international sea and an Italian vessel is available to carry people, they won’t allow the Italian vessel to take people. They will just bring out guns. If you see guns! Nigerians don’t have guns.
For weeks, we were fed with oza bread, one loaf per day. I won’t forget the day I was ‘dragging’ for bread as I was very hungry. I received three slaps that day. They also ‘dragged’ me. Right now, I want to relax for my country. Libya was like a war or horror film for me. I hope to leave this place in the next few days for my grandmother’s house at 2nd East Circular, Benin City.
The conveyors are bandits —Anthony Jimoh, 38, male
The road to Libya is very dangerous. We moved from Nigeria and stopped over at Agadez in Niger Republic, where we met citizens from other Africans countries also traveling to Libya. From there, we entered a truck to Duruku, which is a transit camp and spent about two or three days there before getting a vehicle to Libya.
Most of the guys and drivers taking people to Libya are rebels and bandits. Often, they rape women and kill travelers who had no money to give them. These rebels and bandits sometimes abandon their vehicles and passengers on the pretence that they were looking for water. After waiting for days without seeing them, the people would resort to trekking. Most of them die while trekking because you can’t get food or water in the desert.
I was in Libya during Muammar Gadafi, but it was on my second journey after rebel took over the entire country that I experienced torture at the camp in Libya. When we got there, they asked us to pay 2000 Cefa. Those who didn’t have the money were asked to labour for it. They were asked to break stones into pieces which they used in building houses. The most dangerous part is crossing the Mediterranean sea to Italy. If the boat or balloon sinks, it’s over, while everyone is also at the mercy of the tide.
Journey is 50-50 —Daniel Osaro, 35, male
The journey is 50-50 as one is not sure of making it alive to Libya because of rebel and militants’ activities. We can spend 11 days in a truck with over 100 people. If the bandits are operating on the way, you know what that means for such number of people in a vehicle.
The Arabs hate deceitful and dishonest people. When dealing with them , you must be straight-forward and truthful, but when they discover you are not, they will maltreat you. So if you say our people are tortured, they are one way or the other involved in bad things.
I left my job to travel to Libya —Favour, 22, female
I was a fashion designer in Nigeria before I embarked on the journey to Italy. I abandoned my work to travel to Libya in search of greener pasture. My sister assisted me to get to Libya February this year. I don’t know how much she paid, but when I got there I was unable to reach her as she was no longer picking my calls.
The journey was an unpleasant experience because we could stay for a day without food and most of the time, we were living on a loaf of bread. I saw dead bodies on my way to Libya. You see people dying while crying for water, but we had to move on. I was able to survive because my mom used to send money to me.
I saw hell — Sylvester Agho, male
I spent five-months in Libya. My brother, it was like hell. All I can say is that I’m happy to make it back to Nigeria alive because many people were not. There is no other country that could be likened to Nigeria. There is freedom in Nigeria. When you are in Nigeria, you have the freedom to move about without molestation, but the moment you step out of the shores of Nigeria, you have lost your freedom. There is a great discrimination over there, but in Nigeria, there is nothing like that. In Nigeria, you can walk freely, but over there, there is nothing like that.
I will 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. I left this country on June 15, this year and am back today which means that I spent five months and some weeks there, but throughout that period, I was in hell.
There is nothing good over there. Nothing on earth will make me say that I want to travel by land to Europe. For those going back, I advise them not to go but stay in Nigeria and look for something else to do.
I’m happy to return home alive —Destiny Gabriel
I’m happy to be back home alive. In Libya, there was no freedom for me because the Arabs there don’t have respect for human beings at all. Many of us spent our last money and sold our properties before leaving this country to earn a better life. I believe if Nigeria was good and our government planned well for us, traveling would not have been attractive. The federal and state governments should do something. They should not sleep. They should not allow the youths 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 period now and there is nothing we will do to take care of our families in this December. How are we going to make money to take care of our families in this December? We need money to buy clothes for ourselves, to buy clothes for our families, to buy food at home like some of us do not even have money to rent an apartment.
I appreciate the governor who said we should stay in this hotel for three days and after three days, what then happens to us? Like some of us, we do not even have a place to stay after that three days, what then happens to us? Where do we go from here? Those are the questions I am asking the governor.
It’s a journey to death —Anonymous, female, 19
I left my village in Benin last year after finishing my secondary education. My parents made arrangements for me to travel with a woman whose daughter was in Italy. To take me across the sea, my parents paid about N250,000 to the woman. I spent some weeks with the woman before I later joined others in a bus to the northern part of Nigeria.
About 150 of us who started out in Nigeria died of hunger and thirst in the desert. There was no water and food. Somehow, about half of our group finally arrived at a place they said was Libya territory after several weeks. That night, we were somewhere in a village when we heard that some men were looking for us. We ran in different directions. I was unlucky as I was among 12 females and five males caught by the men. They loaded us like chickens into a truck and drove off. We finally arrived somewhere where we were again taken into the forest.
In the morning, they matched us into an open space where they divided the girls into two groups. In my group were seven girls. The other girls were led away and I never saw them again. Our captors, nine of them, looked like Boko Haram. They lined us up before a bench, with which they raped us serially. I was number four in the row. They told us to knee down and hold the bench. Then, the nine men took turns to rape each of us, in the vagina, the arse, wherever they chose.
One of the girls, who sat close to me in the bus and in the truck, died while she was being raped. Another girl was beaten to a coma for not responding to their instructions on time. They finally left us after they had their full of us. I never knew I will survive. For several days, I could not stand straight, let alone walk.
Later, a Benin man who lives in Libya heard our story. He sent some men to search for us and they finally saw us and took us to a place where we were taken care of. When we were strong enough to sit down, we were put in a truck and sent back to Nigeria.
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