BY Ray Morphy
I want to share to my readers, the experience of a young girl of Edo origin who attempted to cross the Sahara Desert to Europe through Libya in search of greener pasture, as told to NAPTIP officials on her return to Nigeria. The returnee narrates her experience;
“I traveled July 4th last year. My sponsor told me that within one week I would be in Italy. But when I got to Libya it was another story.
These sponsors always convince you and make it look like it is easy, but I have learnt now. I feel the government should arrest them and execute them.
(Weeping). “These sponsors are here in Edo State, and they have their links in Libya too. It is an organized trade, and I have seen it all at this my little age of 20.
When I got to a place they call Ghetto, I was there with one other girl. They sold us to one man so that we can be doing prostitution.
The next day another woman came to the Ghetto and bought me as her slave. She bought me for N1,700, and she asked me to pay her N450, 000, that includes my feeding and the water I will be using to bath.
“I called my dad and explained to him that she said my people should send me the money or I will be prostituting to get the money.
“Then my father sent me N50,000 and pleaded he would sell his land to get me the remaining balance. The husband of my madam is in Nigeria; my father wanted to sell the land to him so that they can help me. But the man said he does not like the location where the land is, so he will not buy. I had no choice than to do what my madam said I should do, and that is prostitution. I was now sleeping with different men. I worked with her for over two months. I was not allowed to go out, and always indoors sleeping with customers.
“I told my dad that I was tired of the situation so he told me he has a friend in Libya that he will contact him to help me. He contacted the man, and the man informed him that he was staying in a different town. The man then told me to ask my madam how he could come to pick me and that he was ready to pay her off. I asked my madam, and she said the man should bring N300,000. But I reminded her that my dad had already sent me N50,000 meaning that it was a balance of N250,000. But the man (my father’s friend) said he had only N200,000 cash to give to the woman.
We pleaded with the woman, and she accepted. The man brought N220,000 including taxi money for me to come over to his place. That was how I left that woman.
“Then when I got to my father’s friend’s house, it was the same job I was doing with the woman, that he said I should be doing. That is prostitution. And my father did not know that his friend had bought me from the woman to do the same kind of sex job. The man said I would pay him N440,000. I had no choice than to work hard and pay.
By December last year I was done with the payment, then started hustling for myself so I could get money to cross the sea for Italy.
So, I made about N400,000 and gave the man N300,000 to keep for me.
“Knowing that I now had some money, I decided to go buy some food stuff that I will use to cross the sea. I met the man to give me back my money, and he said he would not give me. I told him that that was wicked because he was sleeping with me, and then I still paid him for keeping me in his house yet he was not satisfied.
“He started beating me until I fell sick. I called my mum that I want to leave that house. Incidentally, my period was delayed that month, and I told the man that it seemed I was pregnant. He said I should go and do a test but the very day I wanted to go for a test, my period started. Then he started beating me that I had gone to remove the pregnancy but I told him it was not true. He said he would not leave me that I have gone to destroy his baby and threatened to call the bad boys of Libya for me.
I was dying in that house and didn’t know what to do.
“We were eight girls in that house with the man, and we all worked for him. He sleeps with all of us, and we still pay him. So, one of the senior girls in the house advised me on what to do. She told me that any time the man is sleeping with me again and that while he is on top of me, I should ask him when he would free me. She told me that whatever the man says at that moment is what he will do. So when he came to sleep with me, and I asked him when he would free me? He eplied that I should not worry that he will free me the next Wednesday.
“That day he promised me was July 11. So on that day, he called me, gave me a battery to charge my phone and a Nokia phone. That night he told me a taxi would come and pick me up. He said my transport fare is N60,000, that is from there to Tripoli from where we were to leave by sea to Italy. So this man claimed that he has paid about N210, 000 for my transportation including crossing me across the sea to Italy. But I told him that my money is still with him. Then, I got to the camp.
From the camp to Italy is about one hour thirty minutes.
“We were there suffering, no food and no money. I called the man, and he said I should come back to the house.. I said I could not go back to him. He was calling me to come back, but I said rather than go back to him, let me die. But the camp was very hot. Several times we woke up to the sound of gunshots and people will be running. In Libya, they shoot anyhow and kill people like chicken.
“And I want to advice our youths not to try it; it is better you work here in Nigeria even though you are suffering here, endure it and pray to God for better days. I was not patient in life that was why. Nobody should go to Libya; the place is hell on earth. I saw people die like chicken every day and I wonder if I can get out of the trauma.
“Our men are suffering there. They don´t allow them to come back because they use them for slavery, they work for people without pay.
Our government should please go and bring them back.”
This is in addition to the heart rending, gut wrenching CNN report last week that showed our youth being bought and sold for as little as $400 dollars!
NAPTIP, National Orientation Agency, Edo State government, please heed. We have to mount a nationwide sensitisation effort of the dangers involved but we must first round up the sponsors, their agents and their backers! It is our duty to protect the weak, the vulnerable and the dispossessed!
We cannot abandon these our citizens to their fate! That would be wrong, wicked and unacceptable! We cannot as a people leave our people in the hands of the human wolves and hyenas in the Sahara!