By Benjamin Njoku
A Nigerian teenager, Beauty John, yesterday, relived sad memories of how she slept with over 20 men everyday all in her bid to migrate to Europe in search of greener pastures.
Beauty was among the 60 Nigerian teenagers deported from Libya who visited The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations,SCOAN, where they were given N2 million by the head pastor of the church, Prophet T.B. Joshua, and Emmanuel TV Partners to help start their lives afresh in Nigeria.
Sharing her horrible experience with the congregation, which was posted on Prophet TB Joshua’s Facebook page, Beauty, who hails from Akwa-Ibom State, said her heart skipped a beat after her sponsor assured her that she wouldn’t pay anything before embarking on the journey.
She naively quipped, trying to process the enormity of the offer that had been so coyly presented. “Nothing. You will, of course, pay back once you reach Europe,” her sponsor assured her.
“It was 2015. Beauty tearfully kissed her mum and younger siblings farewell, promising she would call upon her arrival in Europe. The car first went to Kano State, where she was roughly pushed into another vehicle with several other intrepid travellers. Their destination was Agadez, Niger. As the vehicle hastily traversed the desert terrain at midnight, Beauty plucked up the courage to ask about the plane she would board to Europe.”
“Shut up, girl” was the only answer she got. There was no going back. In Agadez, Beauty was placed inside a Hilux vehicle alongside almost 20 others. A tortuous four-day journey through the Sahara Desert lay ahead. The sun beat relentlessly, the young Nigerian clinging onto a wooden stick as the vehicle hurtled through the endless dunes at breakneck speeds.”
“When Beauty arrived in Libya, a ‘connection-man’ was awaiting her. But the conditions on which she set out on her journey were about to be radically revised. She would have to ‘pay her ticket’ to Europe, he stoically informed her. How? By selling her own body for sex. Beauty convulsed, blurting out that this was not what she bargained for.
“That’s not my business; you belong to me now,” he retorted, striking her to the ground with a vicious blow. Beauty had been sold into sexual slavery – by her own countrymen. It took the teenager almost six months to raise the requisite money to ‘buy’ her freedom – an equivalent of N400,000. “I slept with between 20 to 25 men every day,” she wincingly reminisced of her days in prostitution. Innocence robbed in the cruellest, most callous of fashions.
What transpired in the next 1,000 days are beyond what words can adequately convey. Beauty spent three years in Libya, which she described as “hell on earth” – longing for the day she would ‘cross over’ to Europe. She worked as a cleaner in a hospital to support herself, saving up her meagre income to secure her journey. Finally setting sail in a makeshift rubber dinghy in late 2018, along with almost 100 others, Beauty had not even reached International Waters when their ship was flagged down by the Libyan coastguard. She was promptly imprisoned and finally repatriated back to Nigeria.
“I came back with literally nothing,” she stated, adding that the clothes on her back were provided courtesy of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
“I wasted three years of my life in Libya,” Beauty groaned. “But God kept me alive for a purpose – so my life can be a lesson to others. I plead with my fellow Nigerian youth not to take such a journey and end up in prostitution, like I did.”