“We saw girls raped to death, boys killed, people sold as slaves – Libya returnees….”
The above statement is one of the harrowing experiences narrated by Libyan returnees. But what were their reasons for leaving their countries only to end up in Libya?
For Miss Loveth Ekumabo, a 25-year-old Libya returnee, she has blamed her father’s incestuous behaviour for her decision to flee to Libya, at least, for safety from her father; and also in search of greener pasture.
The fate of the Edo-born Ekumabo can best be likened to the character of King Odewale in Ola Rotimi’s “The gods are not to blame”, who was to kill his father in order to marry his own mother.
Her case is jumping from frying pan into fire. She has, in her life, gone through bitterness, especially her stay in faraway Libya, where she underwent forced labour and was made a subject of serial rape.
Ekumabo, from Uhunwode local government, is one of the hundreds of Edo indigenes that have been repatriated from Libya. They are currently in the custody of the state government undergoing rehabilitation for effective integration into society.
Aside her traumatic experience during the seven-month sojourn in the North African country, pregnant Ekumabo, may have to live with the pain of not knowing the father of her unborn child.
In an interview with NAN, she laid curses on all those who raped her in Libya, including her biological father, whose incestuous action at home, she claimed, was responsible for her present predicament.
Narrating her ordeal, Ekumabo said her father’s attempted acts of incest, drove her to Libya.
She alleged that the exposure of her father’s attempted incestuous relationship with her resulted into a big family row.
”After I exposed what my father wanted to do to me, fight broke out at home and I had to run away for my safety.
“I went to stay with my friend who introduced me to the man that helped people to Europe.
”I did not have any money, I was made to swear to an oath in a shrine in Benin that I will pay back every kobo when I get to Europe.
”We agreed that I will pay back N200,000. I left Benin for Kano in April, 2017. From Kano we were transported in a Hilux truck through the dessert with no food and water to Agadez in Niger and from there to Tripoli in Libya..
”If you want to cross from Agadez to Tripoli without money you either get raped as a girl or get beaten up as a boy. The agency can also sell you out as slaves to get their money before you are allowed to cross to Tripoli with your new owner.
“I saw dead people; boys being killed; girls raped to death and people sold as slaves.
“The worst part is that Nigerians are among those Arabs who treat fellow Nigerians badly.
”It was while I was about to cross to Tripoli that four Arab men raped me continuously without stop. After which I was allowed to cross to Tripoli where I discovered that I was pregnant.
”The Church where Nigerians worshipped in Tripoli advised me to go back to Nigeria since I cannot do any other work here now that I am pregnant.
Sounding confused, Ekumabo, said she did not get any comfort and words of encouragement from her immediate family. Her biological mother forbade her to return home empty handed.
“When I called my family that I was coming back, my mother asked them to tell me to stay back and try my best to cross to Europe.
“But I said to myself that since she was not the one who sent me to Libya, she has no right to tell me to cross to Europe,” she said.
She explained that Edo State government has advised her to keep the pregnancy and has promised to give her accommodation where she will stay and be delivered of the baby.
Her story is not different from that of the hundreds of other Libyan returnees who were recently received by the Governor Godwin Obaseki.
Mr. Harrison Okotie, 35, married and has two children is one of the returnees with gory story to tell.
Okotie, who hails from Ughelli South local government area of Delta, left everything in Benin, where he had lived all his life, before leaving for Libya in search of greener pasture to take care of his family.
He noted that his journey through the desserts without food and water and the inhumane treatment meted on him made him realised that there is no place like home.
”I will never in my life think of leaving my country again. Whether there is work or not, I will stay here and manage with my family.
”The Nigerians held-up in Garian prisons are well over 4,000. The Libyan authorities do not want to release them because they are making money from them.
”They will call you from prison and ask you to call your people in Nigeria to send money for them to release you. Even if you succeed in getting money from Nigeria, they still would not let you go.
”It is a big business. They are not happy that the United Nations and international bodies are helping to deport people to their countries. So they now keep Nigerians in their underground prisons.
According to him, “am appealing to the federal government, UN and other international bodies to save Nigerians in Garian underground prisons.”
He said: ”It was a horrible experience. One day, a truck that carried 28 people, 15 of them died on the way due to lack of food and water.’’
The story of 34-year old Miss Josephine Ajabor, also from Delta, is however strange.
She had taken her three- year old son, Thomas, with her to Libya in August.
Ajabor, a single mother, said she paid N250,000 to her sponsor for herself and her son to Europe en-route Libya.
”I will forever continue to ask my son for forgiveness because of the suffering I subjected him to. No water, no food. But God kept him for me.
”The driver, who took us from Nigerian border, kept giving my son the water he poured into the radiator of the truck until we got to Libya.
”In the prisons they served us food without salt. God just kept my son alive for me and I am so grateful that I am alive to narrate my experience.’’
Mr. Sunday Ehiagina, another returnee, squandered his life savings on the trip to Libya.
Ehiagina, a native of Irrua in Esan Central local government area of Edo, said he owned and operated a shoe factory for seven years in Benin.
He had sold the factory, and used the proceeds to undertake a trip to Libya with his 19-year old pregnant wife, Blessing, to make ‘quick money’
Ehiagina said: “We paid N600,000 to one Mr. John Osaremen, who is now late.
We also paid another N1.1million to cross to Tripoli but we were taken to kidnapping centre where we spent one month.
”After crossing to Tripoli, we met one prince Ghana and paid him N400,000 to cross to Europe but we waited for another one month at the camp where we were busted by Libya authorities.
“My wife is back, she was in the second batch that came to Nigeria. I am very happy to be back to my country and state.
“But so many people are still trapped inside Garian and Saba prisons. Our dreams to go to Europe turned into dead end for so many of us.”