‘We were sold as slaves for $735’ – Nigerian Libya returnee reveals
In a new interview with BBC, the Nigerians gave their accounts at a hotel in Benin, where they are being accommodated by the Edo State government.
According to one of the returnees, 20 of them were sold for just $730 as slaves and were also made to drink water from the toilet.
Read their harrowing ordeal below..
Agen Akhere, who was in tears as he spoke was held for two months in a detention centre in a place called Gharyan. He was registered by the UN’s migration agency (IOM), released from the detention centre and flown home but his friend did not make it.
According to him,
“It’s because of money,” he said, pleading and craning his neck to get closer to the microphone. “My friend, he’s still there. His name is Samson. He’s still there, in Gharyan.”
Gharyan, a prison in the mountains about 100km (60 miles) south of Tripoli, was were many immigrants were detained, starved, beaten, defiled, traded as slaves and horrifically abused by prison guards.
Lucky Akhanene, who returned in the same group as Mr. Akhere and was held in Gharyan for four months.
“They come to our caravans [cells], they pick six persons to do their dirty jobs to do farming, brick-laying work,” says He “They give us out to their friends. They don’t pay us. It’s just hard labour, if you’re not fast with your job you get beaten.”
Two other returnees, Jackson Uwumarogie and Felix Efe, who spoke about being leased out by the prison for day labour, were arrested “on top of the sea”, off the coast of Libya and taken to Gharyan.
According to them, one night a prison guard came and counted out 20 men, he took them outside and blindfolded them.
Mr. Uwumarogie overheard the men talking about a price – 1,000 dinars ($735; £550). They were put into a van and taken to a farm.
Mr. Uwumarogie and Mr Efe were forced to work harvesting onions and feeding cattle. They slept in a plywood hut and were guarded day and night by men with guns. They were never paid.
On the farm they were only given food every few days, he said, and sometimes given sea water to drink.After six months they and five others were loaded into a pick-up truck and taken to the desert.“They dumped us there,” Mr. Uwumarogie said. They were there for two days.
“It was with the help of God that we found the man that rescued us.” The man brought them to his house and then took them to Tripoli to meet the IOM.On the horrific abuse at the Gharyan prison, one Fatima Atewe, said: “They beat boys,” Fatima Atewe said. “Even in prison in Nigeria, they don’t beat Nigerian people the way they beat Nigerian people there.”
“Many people are dying there day and night. And their cold is not good, their cold is like inside a fridge,” Ms. Atewe added.According to her, she spent over 10 days in Gharyan before she was repatriated. She had been arrested with a friend and after three days in prison, she said, her friend was sold.