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Nigerians sell Nigerians: Libya ambassador’s dumb defence

December 10 this year will be 79 years the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) came into force.

In international law, decisions of the General Assembly of the UN (UNGA) are not declaratory of international law or do not take force of action as to be enforced in courts – municipal or international. But the UDHR has been an exception that although the UNGA brought it into being, it remains the strongest law in the international circles regarding enforcement.

The UDHR has also given rise to a plethora of adjunct laws on human rights. Good enough, Libya, the North African country that lies on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea is signatory to all the UN conventions on Human rights, including the UDHR and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

On February 14, 1957, precisely 60 years ago, Libya ratified the UN Convention on prohibition of slave trade.

Likewise, the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) has also been in force since 1987 and Libya is among the 126 state parties.

Now, few weeks ago, news broke through the CNN that Libya practices slave trade and also torture and dehumanizing of migrants from sub Sahara Africa, most of them Nigerians. For obvious reasons, we know why Nigerians are in the majority – the high population, the daring citizens and the hardship they face at home, a very unlivable place, especially since 2015 May when the present administration came into power and unleashed unprecedented hardship on Nigerians occasioned by economy in recession.

Yes, the problem of migration of Nigerians had been there, but worsened in the past two years. In addition, the people migrating are mostly misinformed that they sell their valuables, borrow and do some other things to raise money good enough to offer them a start in Nigeria to migrate to an unknown future.

But with the enormity of the damning evidences – pictures and video clips that Libya or Libyan citizens turned migrants passing through their country to slaves, tortured them in most inhumane form and even killed many is not a liability Libya as a state party to all the laws against inhuman treatment can wish or explain away as the ambassador in Nigeria shamelessly tried to do.

The way to describe the Libyan Ambassador’s comment is dumb, purely dumb and senseless. His quick intervention in such absurd language is sign that he, as a person, knows what goes on there. It shows the state of Libya orders and supervises that evil. It’s a pointer that the people involved in that act for the state of Libya. It also endorses Libya as an inhuman and backward state that reneges on its international obligation to preserve the rights of humanity.

The ambassador actually told us that Libya supervises and endorses and doesn’t criminalize torture, slave trade, inhuman treatment of migrants and foreigners and doesn’t respect human rights. Libya, by these acts, worsened by the rude and callous retort of the ambassador, is inhuman and a dissident nation, criminally liable and should be treated as pariah by the world.

If Nigeria were tact in her diplomatic relations, the Libyan ambassador should not have spent the next 24 hours here after that terrible comment by him justifying the evil of his state. Nigeria should have ordered him to leave this country and also recall the nation’s ambassador from Libya.

Beyond blaming Nigerians for the trips that end in the lions’ den called Libya, we would ask the Libyan ambassador: granted that Nigerians sell Nigerians as he claimed, who are the buyers? He didn’t tell us the buyers of the sold Nigerians are also Nigerians, so since the transaction is in Libya, Libyans are the buyers. If the seller of Nigerians is culpable, does that in any way exonerate the buyer Libya? The sale and buy have gone on in Libya for years, what did the state do about it? Those torture agents seen in pictures and videos are indisputably Libyans, and never Nigerians, and where does that put Libya in the blame chain?

Those immigrants find their way into Libya even without documents, who then makes the way for them to access the country of Libya outside the Libyan immigration authorities? So if Libyan immigration compromises the foreigners possibly by taking gratification from them, then Libya is deeply culpable for that ring of torture and slavery.

There is no way that crime ring would exist in a state with the citizens and foreigners participating without the state knowing of it, and since Libya knows of that crime, what did it do?

One won’t overstep to conclude that the state of Libya created, funds and sustains that crime ring.

What the dumb argument of the ambassador said is like foreigners are killed in Nigeria by their fellow citizens, and because those that kill the strangers are also strangers, the state owes them no duty of protection and if they continue, the state should also not take blame for it. It’s just crass to argue that way. The ambassador stood the principles of state liability in international law and common logic on its head. He actually worsened his country’s case by that argument. He admitted responsibility of his country because he actually showed he has good knowledge of the development to know who sells who. With such knowledge, Libya did nothing over the years. That is state decreed callousness.

It is unlikely that Nigeria is going to take any action against Libya, but the whole world should not keep quiet as well. The country deserves heavy diplomatic sanctions for the act of opting out of and defying the very international instruments she signed to defend.

Then way back home, Nigerians need thorough orientation away from this craze to travel to Europe losing all you have here to face an uncertain future risking lives through deserts and international borders.

Thousands of travelers die every year on the Mediterranean in the bid to cross over to Europe and those that at last made it across end up with uncertain future, finding foothold in a strange land with no means of livelihood.

I prefer to die here in Nigeria than gamble with travelling abroad to a place I don’t know and with no skills of what to do for a living and make the famed wealth over there. Nigeria is not rosy, no doubt, but it’s not even rosier abroad worst of all as illegal migrant that hides away from public glare and absolutely no chances of finding livelihood.

We read the shocking tales of returnees among them on how they walk and suffer through the desert and are swindled by agents that deceive them into embarking on such journeys. Those that left Nigeria with some little means of subsistence come back totally bereft of anything to live on. It’s a vicious cycle of delusion and hopelessness and must be discouraged at all costs.

It’s never a good reminder that the governments of Nigeria over the years have done absolutely little and next to nothing to sincerely make Nigeria a livable place. The land devours the citizens and this is the major reason they migrate defying even death and some even opting to die than remain here hopeless.

Nigeria has woefully sustained a culture of giving no future to her citizens and this is a reason they desperately loathe their own country.

This escalating migration of the hopeless to a hopeless destination remains a major indictment on the managers of Nigeria especially now with heightened hardship, hunger, joblessness and other hazards. And it should also be a call to the common Nigerians to hold their managers accountable even from the next election. Let us agree to refuse plunderers that parade with lies of change and renewal and turning Nigeria to a better place and end up bettering their personal lots.

Uche Atuma :

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