Nigerians return home with a caution to others: Do not go to Libya

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) They seemed like any other little couple in love, proudly showing off their baby.

But theirs is no ordinary love story.

Love has blossomed in the most unusual but uplifting conditions for Nigerian migrants Mabel Emmanuel, 27, and Henry Stevens, 28, who also met after she was first kidnapped in Libya during an effort to enter Europe.

Emmanuel was struggling to pay a ransom to her kidnappers, so Stevens stepped in to pay the money and bought her freedom.

They became inseparable and now have a three-month-old son called David.

“They kidnapped me in a location called Sabha, that’s when I met my husband. He bailed me out, it was this past year and we fell in take pleasure in,” Emmanuel said.

“I acquired pregnant in March this year and I gave birth to my baby in August. I gave birth to my baby in prison, with tears. Despite the fact that I was pregnant, these were still beating and maltreating me. But I provide God the praise that I’m still alive today and I’ve my baby and my husband now.”

Outcry over people sales

Their story is a exceptional silver lining amid the tales of horror recounted by newly-returned Nigerian migrants from Libya.

Nigeria says it’s been working with the International Company for Migration to bring its citizens home since January of this year.

But the speed of the repatriation has picked up following a public outcry since CNN’s exclusive investigation revealed that migrants were for sale in slave auctions, an aide to the federal government said.

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Abike Dabiri-Erewa, a senior special associate to the Nigerian president, said: “With the outcry, they are going at a faster speed. As the week goes by, the quantity of planes will increase.”

“There will be stranded African migrants in detention centers outdoors Tripoli because those prisons will be manned by rebels, we can not get there. It’s important that the African Union and EU instructs them to open up all detention centers consequently every African there will come back home,” she added.

The United Nations-backed Libyan Federal government of National Accord, or GNA, said it’s keen to handle violations against illegitimate immigrants but called after regional and global partners to supply assistance.

Libyan officials also have denounced the migrant slave auctions uncovered by CNN, but claim extra support is necessary from the global community to tackle the problem.

Refugees return home

On Tuesday night, the latest batch of 143 arrivals, mostly from Nigeria’s Edo Condition, stepped onto the tarmac at the cargo terminal of Lagos airport terminal, tired and weary, uncertain what the future holds for them in the country they were thus desperate to flee from.

Even so, regardless of the uncertainty they face, their relief for being back on home land was palpable.

There have been shouts of joy, prayers of gratitude and jubilation because they got away the plane.

Several of the new arrivals were women with very young infants. One of these, Abeuwa Igwe, experienced her 10-month old daughter Favor strapped tightly to her back again.

Abeuwa Igwe with her baby on her behalf back. In prison for 10 weeks, Igwe had little usage of food or proper care for her baby.

She told CNN she left Nigeria in June this past year to travel to Italy after among her neighbors in Edo Condition promised her work as a domestic worker.

Abeuwa said she was willing to try to make the dangerous boat trip even though she was aware that many had died during the crossing.

“I was scared but I made up my mind. I prayed to God that he’d help me cross the river. Many people die, but many survive,” she said.

However, her plans to reach Europe didn’t happen as she got stuck in Libya instead.

Her situation became further complicated when she found out she was pregnant.

“I didn’t find out I was pregnant before I went to Libya. I found out at five weeks,” she said.

“I was forced to give birth in the rear of a condemned car. No hospital. Little or nothing. It was God that helped me.

“I was alone. I experienced nothing, little or nothing,” she stated, recalling the birth of her child.

“I spent a yr and four weeks in Libya. All my period there was horror and awful. I had a whole lot of beatings,” she recounted, pausing at times to sigh deeply before regaining her composure.

“People are dying each day, no food, zero drinking water, she said. “I was in prison for 10 weeks with my baby. It was horror. We just ate two slice of loaf of bread in the morning with some chai (local tea).

“It’s hard for the infants to get garments or food. These were not really kind to the infants at all.

“The worst thing that I saw was a pregnant woman who was beaten and raped.” she said.

Just like the other new arrivals Abeuwa sounds a cautionary be aware to other Nigerians planning a similar journey.

“In my life, I would never head to Libya. I advise Nigerians not to travel to Libya,” she added.

‘If you move there, you’re prepared to die’

Osunde Benjamin is also from Edo Condition. After searching for a task unsuccessfully for quite some time following his graduation in 2002, Benjamin made a decision to travel to European countries via Libya in June this past year.

Osunde Benjamin, who was also attempting to flee to European countries via Libya. “Libya is definitely an awful place,” he said.

“My purpose was to cross to European countries,” he says. “There will vary connection men there, some of them will be from Nigeria, Ghana, they will work with the Libyans. They took us to Zawiya. We spent time there looking forward to pressing (boats to depart for Italy).”

During the wait, these were raided simply by police and taken to a prison just outside Tripoli where this individual spent two months before being shifted to another camp in Mistrata, where he’d spend a further eight months, Osunde stated.

“The conditions are awful and miserable. They toss the food at you, you will be like dogs. Even at times there’s no food. Some people died next to me.

“Libya is an awful place. They kill people anyhow. They sell people anyhow. I saw people being killed. They lower their heads off.

“I will never head to Libya again. If you go there, you’re prepared to die.”

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