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Returnee migrants narrate how they were sold in Libya by fellow Nigerians

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Some of the Nigerians who were recently repatriated by the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) have narrated how most of the trafficking syndicates in Libya are being run by Nigerians.

The IOM facilitated the return of 1,295 Nigerians from Libya In November alone, and a total of 5,578 in 2017.

CNN had shown chilling images obtained undercover, of African Migrants being sold in an auction at a trafficking camp in Libya, some of them for as low as $400.

On Thursday, about 150 Nigerians were flown back from Libya, courtesy of the IOM. Some of them spoke to journalists, sharing horrifying stories about how Nigerians are championing the sale of fellow Nigerians into slavery.

“When I was kidnapped with others and held for some weeks, the Arabs asked if I wanted to be taken to a Nigerian and I readily said yes. I was very happy that I was going to someone from my country. But it was a lie,” Odion Saliu, one of the returnees, told The Punch.

“The Nigerian they took me to locked me in a cell and told me to call my mother and ask for N60,000.

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“The man said he would sell me to a connection house if my family did not get the money. I called to inform my mother and the trafficker who facilitated my journey from Nigeria.

“But the trafficker spoke with them on the phone and told them the amount they demanded was too small.

“They increased it to N200,000. My mother paid into an account after they provided her with the account number over the phone.

“The Nigerian said if I wanted to cross the sea, I had to pay him again. But when we got to the seaside, he sold me again.”

According to her, the same Nigerian resold her for 3,000 dinars (about N794, 000).

Another returnee, Sunday Anyaegbunam, said he embarked on the journey to Europe through Libya along with his wife in April, and during their nine-day journey through the Sahara desert, they were sold twice by Nigerians.

He narrated that their Nigerian “burger” (trafficker) first sold them to another set of Libyan traffickers at Agadez, Niger, who then resold them to another Nigerian who took them to Sabha, Libya, where they were eventually separated in different cells.

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“We were made to contact our families on the phone and I had to ensure the payment of N400,000 for my release and N300,000 for my wife,” Anyaegbunam said.

“The Nigerians selling people in Libya are more wicked than many of the Arabs. I have never seen people so heartless as the Nigerians who bought and sold me.

“There are many of them in Agadez and Sabha, who are making so much money from selling their own people. But there are other West Africans doing the business too.

“When you approach them and say, ‘Please, my brother, help me.’ They would tell you, ‘No brother in the jungle.'”

Esosa Osas, a 25-year-old woman who was in Libya for six months, said she also met many Nigerians selling their countrymen.

“You dare not talk to them, else they would beat you and lock you up. They sell women for 5,000 dinars and men for N4,000 dinars. I noticed that the connection houses were also controlled by Nigerian women.”

Anyaegbunam’s narrative corroborated the story of Foka Fotsi, a Cameroonian Migrant who told journalists that he was kept in camps run by Nigerians and Ghanaians.

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“There was torture like I’ve never seen. They hit you with wooden bats, with iron bars,” Fotsi had told journalists.

“They hang you from the ceiling by (your) arms and legs and then throw you down to the floor. They swing you and throw you against the wall, over and over again, 10 times.

“They are not human beings. They are the devil personified.”

Thirty-five-year-old Harrison Okotie, another returnee who lived in Libya for three years until his repatriation, put the whole narrative in better perspective.

“Nigerians and Libyans are doing the business like they are one big happy family,” he said.

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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