© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
We no longer fear death, we have seen what’s more than hell, says Nigerian returnee from Libya
WHEN Kehinde Fatakusi left Nigeria for ‘Europe’ in 2016, accompanied by his wife and six-year-old son, he thought his troubles had come to an end and that all would be rosy thenceforth, little did he know that his woes had only been multiplied.
Fatakusi never made past Libya, much less to Europe. He ended up in one of the many illegal migrants’ camps in the crisis-ridden country and for years he lived in hell with little hope of ever being reunited with his wife.
Once they got to Libya, Fatakusi was separated from his wife who was sold to another group of human traffickers. He remained with his son in the camp where they were kept, waking up everyday to embark on all manner of manual labour without pay and with very little to eat, but the wife managed to escape from her captors and had since returned to Nigeria.
Fatakusi, a citizen of Ekiti State, and his son are among the latest contingents of Nigerian migrants to return to the country. A total of 136 of them arrived the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, at 11.50 p.m on Monday aboard a chartered Al Buraq Air aircraft, according to Idris Muhammed, the Coordinator of the Lagos Territorial Office of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Narrating his ordeal with journalists on Tuesday, Fatakusi said he lost hope at some point of ever returning to Nigeria alive.
“I was there (in Libya) with my wife who had returned to Nigeria. I believe she would have thought that we are dead,” Fatakusi told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday.
“The Arabs treated us like slaves. You work without being paid and so many of us were killed while the rest watch the killings. All of us here don’t fear death, we have seen what is more than hell.
“The Libyans don’t care if you are black or not, the treatment given to us (blacks) is same they give to their Arab neighbours from Tunisia or Algeria.
“Once they need someone to work, those chosen must follow them. Any refusal not to follow will be to kill that person instantly.”
Fatakusi had intended to travel to Germany, but he said he started regretting embarking on the journey when they got to Niger Republic, not knowing that “what I experienced in the desert was just a child’s play”.
Now that he has a second chance to restart his life all over, Fatasuki said he would love to go into farming.
“Libyans are great farmers in spite of the fact that their country is in the desert. I came back to Nigeria with irrigation tools like water sprinkler which will aid me to start afresh,” he said.
“I will work very hard to see that my son gets a very good education and give my wife a restful life to enjoy our marriage. If I had adequate information about the lies of a better life outside, I would not have tried to leave Nigeria.”
The recent batch of Nigerian returnees from Libya is made up of 59 adult females, 63 adult males, four female children, two male children, five female infants and three infant males.
Almost one thousand Nigerians have returned from Libya so far in 2019, while more than 12,000 have returned since the Assisted Voluntary Returnees Programme commenced in April 2017.
The AVR programme is a collaboration between NEMA, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the European Union (EU).