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‘From Libya, we returned to Edo in sadness’

Edo State parades the highest number of Libya returnees. In two days, 2,800 returnees were received, as more indigenes of the state are still languishing in various prisons in Libya. Some of the returnees spoke to Daily Trust about the harrowing experiences they went through in Libya.

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We only survived by the grace of God – Emokpai Collins (30)

The worsening economy forced me to travel to Libya in August last year.  I was a trailer driver with an oil and gas company in Port Harcourt but along the line I lost my job, and after six months of searching for another job without success, I decided to go to Libya for greener pasture not knowing I was heading for the worst. I paid N650, 000 to get to Libya. My experience there was horrible because apart from the torture I went through, I lost two of my friends who were shot dead by armed militia. When the militia burst into our camp, they started shooting sporadically and people ran for their lives. In the process, my friends (Nosa and Phinael) were shot. Three of us started this journey but I am the only one alive today. The four months I spent in prison was a horrifying experience.  We ate once in a day and whenever we complained of hunger, we were subjected to more torture. We only survived by the grace of God. My only regret is that I was not able to cross over to Italy but I’m happy I came home alive.

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Abductors pressed my leg with hot iron for not paying ransom on time – Ambrose Joseph (20)

I left for Libya on February 22, 2016 and I literally saw hell in Libya. In fact, whenever I close my eyes I continue to see the torture I went through. Many died on the way but I survived only by God’s grace. I spent nine months in prison being tortured. My suffering started when I was kidnapped. They demanded for ransom but I couldn’t pay on time and they used hot iron to press my leg, I still feel the pain till today. The worst aspect was that as soon as I paid the ransom and was released, another group kidnapped me and the torture continued. I paid, N350, 000 to get to Libya and another N250, 000 ransom to regain freedom. In the nine months I spent in prison, I was eating once a day and did not have a bath until I returned to Nigeria.

I can’t advise my enemy to go to Libya – Banabas Dickson (26)

I travelled to Libya on June 17 last year and I paid N500, 000 to get there. On getting there, my people were sending money for my feeding. The journey was hectic, if I knew it was as dangerous as that I would not have started the journey in the first place. But I still thank God that I am alive because many people died on the road to Libya. While in the desert, we travelled in a convoy of 15 Hilux vans, and 25 people in one of the vans died. I lost my cousin Elelekumo, who was in that vehicle. When I got to Libya, I was lucky not to be kidnapped before I was taken to prison. Those who were kidnapped spent between N800,000 and N1.2 million. The UN officials arrested us and took us to a government prison where I spent four months. I can’t advised my enemy to go to Libya.

I wish I had listened to my mother – Joyce Richard (23)

I embarked on the journey to Libya to seek for greener pasture not knowing I was heading for suffering and torture.  I was a stylist and make-up artist before I travelled to Libya. While in Nigeria, I was making about N5, 000 from my shop and was able to save N150, 000. I could not raise the needed amount but my friend who sold the idea of travelling to me supported me. It is sad that my friend died while crossing the sea to Italy. I travelled in June last year and spent four months in a Libyan prison. I hate to remember that experience because we were treated like animals. Beside the torture, we were starved of food and the little that was giving to us was always drugged because the moment we eat, we would all fall asleep. If I had listened to my mother, I wouldn’t have gone through such terrifying experience. My advice to other youths is to always listen to their parents.

It was a journey of life and death – Stanley Osagie (22)

I left for Libya in January last year and paid N600, 000. The journey was very terrible because many died on the way. It was a journey of life and death. Recalling the suffering and torture I experienced there, I will stay back in Nigeria and manage what we have. I spent five months in prison and it was nothing but severe daily beating, whether while eating or sleeping. There were days they would deny us food.  Even if I am offered the whole world, I will never go to Libya. I advise other youth to manage what they have and sit back in Nigeria.

I saw the sky twice in my four months in prison – John

I left for Libya in April last year after paying N500, 000 to traffickers. My intention was to go to Italy and from there move to Germany but it wasn’t possible. I survived the journey to Libya but couldn’t cross over to Italy because our boat capsized. Out of over 100 people on board, only 40 survived and I was lucky to be among them. It was after they rescued us that I was taken to prison. In the four months I spent in prison, I only saw the sky twice. I was always praying that God should take me back to my country because while in prison, it dawned on me that I was living well in Nigeria.

Traffickers deceived us – Christian Otoide (33)

My plan was to go to Europe but when I got to Libya, I discovered that life was good there, so I decided to work there. I was arrested while going to work and once they know you are a Nigerian they will simply dump you in prison. I spent six months in Osama Prison, eating a loaf of bread a day. In prison, it was six people to a pack of macaroni without maggi, salt or pepper. I paid N250,000 to bail myself. We were deceived by the traffickers because in the beginning, they had told me the journey was easy but it dawned on me the moment we took off that all was not well. I left Nigeria in 2016 and paid N580,000 to get to Libya. I can never travel by road to any country again.

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