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Tales of woe as 171 more Nigerians return from Libya

Tales of woe as 171 more Nigerians return from Libya
February 21
20:40 2017

At least 171 Nigerians voluntarily returned from Libya on Tuesday aboard a chartered Nouvelair aircraft with registration number TS-1NB.

The aircraft landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, around 4:18pm.

Gift Peters, one of the returnees, said she got to Libya 11 months ago after being deceived that she was being taken to Germany.

“When I got to Libya, it was not in my mind to continue with the journey. So I asked the person that took me to return me to Nigeria but he started maltreating me and sold me to someone who has a connection house in Libya where we were maltreated daily,” she said.

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“If we don’t want to work, they will start maltreating us. They will do something to you that you will wish to die.

“Those who they sold us to, sometimes, use iron and start burning us. At times, they will instruct our fellow ladies to urinate for us to drink.”

She said she eventually contacted her family in Nigeria and was fortunate to make it back alive, unlike many of her peers who joined her on the ill-fated journey.

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Earlier on February 14, a batch comprising 140 Nigerians voluntarily returned from the North African country where they had been stranded en route Europe.

 

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The new set of returnees were brought back by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Nigerian Embassy in Libya.

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They were received at the hajj camp area of the airport by officers of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the National Agency for the Protection of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the police.

Also on ground to receive them were officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

Salisu Mohammed, director, Search and Rescue, NEMA, who gave a breakdown of the returnees, said they were made up of of 49 males, 109 females, seven children and six infants.

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, senior special assistant to the president on foreign affairs and diaspora, commended the IOM for facilitating the return of the Nigerians.

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A returnee with Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Buhari’s aide

“Like I told them, they are not criminals. These are people that have gone in search for greener pastures. However, it turned out to be a terrible experience for them,” she told reporters.

“They shouldn’t be ashamed of themselves. Now they are back home and Mr President has personally conveyed his greetings to them and to let them know that they are back in Nigeria and there is no better time than now.

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“Times are tough, things are difficult but your country is the best place to be.”

She said the federal government, IOM and some states have put up programmes in place to rehabilitate Nigerians who volunteered to return from Libya in order to reintegrate them into the society.

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“The question is, how long are we going to keep evacuating them? So there is going to be another evacuation and a final one when we will tell Nigerians who are stranded in Libya to come back home,” she said.

“After that it will be difficult getting IOM to do the evacuation.

“A lot of them don’t know where they are going to. There is a lot of ignorance here. Some of them are trafficked and they get there with nothing.

“The message here is that illegal migration is not worth it because as tough as the country is today, you are better off here than being in those places.”

She reiterated the government’s committment to the welfare of Nigerians all over the world, saying efforts were in place to address the issue of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa.

Dabiri-Erewa described the attacks as shameful, noting that it was wrong to generalise Nigerians in the country as criminals.

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