171 Nigerian returnees from Libya have arrived the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos with tales of woes while in the African country in search of greener pastures.
The returnees were received by Special Adviser in the Diaspora and Foreign Affairs, Mrs Abike Dabiri – Erewa who admonished Nigerians to desist from embarking on dangerous journeys under the guise of searching for greener in Libya.
The arrival of the latest 171 yesterday brought the number of those who have been brought home from Libya in the last two years to 1,000.
The returnees consisting of 112 females, 49 males and five infants were flown in aboard an Airbus 320 belonging to Nouvelair with registration number TS-INB that landed about 4.13 pm.
The returnees were received by officials of the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigerian Police, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other security agencies.
Speaking with journalists at the Hajj Camp side of the Lagos Airport, Mrs Dabiri-Erewa admonished the returnees not to see themselves as criminals, but rather as Nigerians who in their move to seek greener pastures have learnt in a hard way and could now tell a different story.
While cautioning parents to advise their children against such risky ventures of travelling to foreign lands without knowing the risks associated, she urged state governments to design empowerment programmes for returnees to enable them pick their lives back.
The female special adviser who said government was committed to ensuring that such people are rehabilitated after their sour experience abroad, declared:”This is not the time to travel abroad. It is always a sad story to be trafficked. Some of these persons wanted better life, but now they know better that it is not worth the trouble.
“We will continue to caution patients to discourage their children to not embark on such trips.
There is no better time to learn skills than now. We are calling on all Nigerians in Libya to come back home because such trips is not worth it at all.
“We are therefore calling on state governments to design empowerment programmes to assist these persons that are lucky to have arrived alive. Some died trying to move to Europe. Many more will be brought back home.”
Narrating her ordeal, one of the female returnees, who identified herself as Gift Peters said many Nigerians are exposed to harrowing experiences in Libya, as many were serving jail terms for offences they have not committed.
She said she was lured into the trafficking ring without the knowledge of her parents by an un-identified trafficker, who is on the run.
Peters said: “Travelling to Libya is not worth the experience. The torture, the maltreatment we encountered is not what words could describe. Some of us were beaten by iron, burnt and sent to jail.
“Many Nigerian girls are in prison, many have died from gunshot wounds. I even lost many of my friends.”
The NEMA team that facilitated their movement from the aircraft to the Hajj Camp was led by its Director of Search and Rescue, Air Commodore Salisu Mohammed.