A diaspora group, Migration Enlightenment Project Nigeria (MEPN) has expressed fears for the possibilities of Nigerians being trapped in camps operated by smuggling gangs and militias in Libya. In an official statement issued, yesterday, and signed by the directors of the group, Femi Awoniyi and Kenneth Gbandi, MEPN said they strongly believe that many Nigerians could still be held in Libya, not only in official detention centres but also in camps run by smuggling gangs and militias. MEPN therefore, called on the federal government to demand from the Tripoli a list of Nigerians being detained in its facilities and release them immediately so that they can return home. They stated that the case of the Nigerian migrants should serve as a lesson to young Nigerians and deter them from embarking on the dangerous journey to reach Europe without visa.
“The MEPN calls on young Nigerians to seek legal ways of migrating as thousands of Nigerians have lost their lives in the past five years in the process of irregular migration. We also call on the government, the EU and the IOM not to relent in their efforts until all Nigerian migrants stranded in Libya and other transit countries are safely brought back home”, the group stated. Most recently, a new batch of 161 Nigerian migrant returnees arrived Lagos on Friday, 12 October 2018 under the EU-IOM joint Initiative on Migrant Protection and Reintegration. According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), altogether 10,000 Nigerians have been repatriated from Libya so far since April 2017. Congratulating the returnees for their safe return, MEPN applauded the efforts of the federal government, the EU and the IOM for the humanitarian repatriation programme. The group further stated, “MEPN would like to use this opportunity to note that thousands of Nigerians may still be stranded in Libya and other transit countries. The case of a group of recent Nigerian returnees who were held captive inside a government-run detention centre in the Libyan town of Zawiya indicates that many Nigerians could still be in forcible custody in the North African country”.“A video recording made by one of the migrants and sent to the international media in July 2018 led to IOM efforts that freed the Nigerians, who have since returned home”, they added. Meanwhile, MEPN is currently carrying out a campaign to promote greater awareness of the risks and dangers of irregular migration in Nigeria.