By Louis Iba.
The Libyan government on Tuesday brought back about 165 Nigerians that had migrated to the country illegally. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) which facilitated the return of the Nigerians explained to journalists that the 162 Nigerians “had voluntarily agreed to be brought back to Nigeria.” “No one deported them; they just agreed voluntarily to return to Nigeria based on the unfriendly conditions they found themselves in Libya,” said head of IOM Office in Lagos, Mr. Nahashan Thuo. “We brought them back in liaison with the Nigerian Embassy in Libya and we will do everything possible to reunite them with their families. We are giving each of them 50 pounds which would be converted to naira to assist them financially,” he added. The IOM said they had expected 162 persons, but that 161 eventually turned up. The returnees comprised 60 males and 101 females, among them children and infants. Thuo explained that three of the returnees had health challenges, with one having a fractured bone and having to be taken to hospital for further treatment. Daily Sun discovered that some of the returnees were families comprising parents and children and there were also pregnant women among them. Interestingly, the majority were in high spirit and too excited to return to Nigeria. However, Before being allowed to enter Nigeria, they were first profiled by officials of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to ascertain that there were indeed Nigerian citizens. Food and water were immediately provided for them at the Hajj/Cargo section of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos where they arrived on board a chartered Nouvel Air aircraft. Director of Search and Rescue for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Onimode Bandele who briefed journalists said the Federal Government had sent them to “welcome the returnees and to ensure that they were well taken care of.”. “They are first Nigerian citizens, Nigerian women and children and we are here on behalf of the federal government of Nigeria to ensure that they don’t feel bad or neglected. The government of Edo State where most of them come from also came here to receive them. As a government, We had to do everything to bring them back safely because of the hostility in Libya and we are glad these group are back home safely,” he added. Daily Sun spoke to three of the returnees and they described their experiences as horrible. “We went through hell in Libya but I am happy to be back home alive,” said Innocent Udejbe.
“I went to Libya to work; I was working in a bakery and I was well paid. But they caught me and took me to their detention camp and said I was an illegal immigrant.
I spent just six months there,” he added. Another returnee, Maureen said she was plating hair in a saloon when Libyan Immigration stormed the place and arrested her and took her to the detention centre where she spent over a month.
“I came back to Nigeria empty; all the money I worked for they didn’t allow me to take back anything, but I am happy to be back alive. IOM gave me clothes to wear and about N19,600,”
Maureen said. Charles Iyen, another returnee said “the Nigerian government should do something to bring back more Nigerians in detention camps in Libya.”
“Some of us are dead. We don’t eat well in the deportation camp and they will flog us at night. They said they don’t want blacks in their country anymore,” said Iyen.