By Louis Ibah .
About 258 Nigerians held for the last one year in a detention centre in Libya returned yesterday to the country looking malnourished, sick, disillusioned, and posing a frightening sight to guests who had waited to welcome them back at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos. A chartered Libya Airlines Airbus A330-200 with registration number 5A-LAU which brought the returnees had touched down at the cargo/hajj terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport at about 8:30pm. The returnees were made up of 220 males, 18 females and 20 children and infants. But when the routine process of getting the returnees to disembark from the aircraft, profiled by Immigration officials, handed their transport stipend and set free to head to their various destinations took more than two and half hours, many of those gathered to receive the returnees started feeling all was not well. And by the time the returnees were eventually brought out of the aircraft to the cargo/hajj camp at about 10.30pm, such fears were confirmed as it was the pictures of human beings looking more like skeletons covered with little human flesh that confronted most onlookers. “This batch comprise of the worst set of returnees that we have received in terms of their health conditions,” said an official of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). “We were frightened with the sight and conditions of the persons that confronted us, but we were more worried when most of them kept pleading that we do more to get others trapped out of the detention centres. It shows that things arw aweful down there. For now, we will try our best to assist these ones to get better treatment for whatever disease they may have contracted in Libya,” added the official who preferred not to be named saying she wasn’t authorized to speak. One of the returnees who identified himself as Peter and volunteered to speak to Daily Sun said the bulk of the persons that returned on this batch had been detained for more than a year without trial nor proper healthcare. “Most of us that you see today were held in one detention centre for more than a year,” Peter said crying. “We were in a boat trying to cross over from Libya to Europe when the Libyan militarily arrested us in the sea and took about 200 of us back to Libya where they locked us up in a room that should not contain more than 15 people. I am from Edo, my wife had succeeded in crossing over with the batch before ours and she is now in Germany, I wanted to join her, but this our batch was unlucky. Where we were kept, we were told that it is a prison for us for one year for entering their country illegally. No one knew about us, we were not allowed to make even calls to anywhere for people to come and bail us. We were dying because they gave us no drugs, not even panadol. Anyone that is sick knows he will die and once he’s dead he is taken out and buried. We lived among the dead for one year and that’s why you see most of us looking this way. I am begging President Buhari to enter Libya and free Nigerians because I know that more Nigerians are still out there dying in some hidden detention centres” said Peter. Another of the returnee, Akhere, who said he is a twin and wanted to join his other half Odion in Spain told Daily Sun how Libyan Police, Naval and Immigration officials abused Nigerians as objects of a game or sport. Said Akhere, “I am a twon and wanted to join my other brother Odion in Spain but they arrested the boat were were using. That was in December 2015 and I have been in detention since them. I am sure my mother, brother and family all think I am dead. I spent all my money on the trip, but even though I came back with nothing, I am happy to be back alive. “The Libyan military used us to play games. They hate us; they will beat us mercilessly and taunt us for no reasons than to enjoy themselves, if you say you are sick they will ask you to die so they can throw you out, and they won’t give you water nor food when you are thirsty or hungry. I regret this journey and won’t recommend it to anyone. Most of us drowned in the sea. But to me, I will be more happy if all the Nigerians detained in Libya are brought back by our government because in that country, they don’t value human life,” he added.
So far, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said 1,268 Nigerians had voluntarily returned from Libya between Dec. 15,2016 and May 16 ,2017. NAMA has also said another batch of Nigerians were being expected on May 25, 2017 assuring that the exercise would continue as long as those stranded in Libya are willing to return home.
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