By Ajibola Abayomi,
August 14, 2019
He was determined to be successful having learnt a trade as computer accessories seller/ supplier, but giving the circumstances he found himself, Eiguedo Christian was not opportuned to set up his own business as expected.
There after frustration sets in and the thought about traveling abroad became the only option to forge ahead. So in June 2016, he traveled for Libya.
The Ugboha town, Edo state born said, “things were tough. No one was willing to help. I have no money to star my own business, so I decided on my own to travel to Libya after making some inquiries.
“I was not cajoled to take the decision. Out of adventurism, I decided to embark on the journey unlike some returnees that claimed someone played on their intelligence to get them on board. I was actually forced to take the option because life at home was tough for me in Benin City.”
Traveling through the Niger Republic desert en-route Libya was hell for him.
While on the journey he could recollect how some of the migrants suffered humiliations ranging from assault, rape and torture at settlements between Nigeria and Niger Republic.
Life was horrible for him and his co-travelers as some of them lost their lives when they could not cope with the rigour of the journey.
The 25 years old man was hopeful and eventually made it to Libya where he experienced another level of horror at the camp of human traffickers at Gatrun and Sabar cities.
Those in charge of human trafficking in the country called themselves connection men and women.
They have contacts persons in Nigeria, Niger and other borders trafficking especially women for prostitution while most male victims were either sold into slavery or contracted out as sales assistants.
At the connection camp no respite for any lady as sexual activity is round the clock depending on the availability of clients who desired the services of the ladies.
He eventually made his way to Tripoli, the capital city having beaten the security checks to join a ship positioned to Italy through the Mediterranean sea, however luck ran out on him at the sea border between Libya and Tunisia where he narrowly escaped death.
At the meddle of the sea, the Tunisia Naval officers after repeated warnings to captains of ships heading towards Tunis routes to retreat fired shots at three ships on the waterways and all the occupants on board got drowned.
The action forced the captain leading his own ship to return to the Libya territory where he and others were arrested and taken to the prison.
At the Alaharam prison, he was detained for 10 months. There, he interacted with hundreds of Nigerians held hostage and others on execution list.
“Who will rescue you? People were being killed at will. Some Gambians told me that whenever any of the prisoners took ill, the fellow’s body was always dumped at the sea for ritualists to harvest their organs.
“We were told that the ritualists work hand in hand with some prison officers in Libya. No good food or drugs, everyone was on his or her own.
At Asirtamalin, Turnawere and Zantown where he was transferred as prisoners at different times, the experience was the same.
Reprieve came his way when the officers of International Organisation for Migration (IOM) visited the prison for documentation and thereafter he was selected for deportation with other Nigerians.
On arrival, they were handed over to the National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) on May 11, 2017.
They were taken to the custody and assisted with N17,100 each and were later given another N30,000 and bags of rice by Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua of Synagogue of All Nations at Ikotun, Lagos.
The returnee who is now a member of a non- governmental organisation against human trafficking, Patriotic Life Foundation, is the founder of Migrant Voice, an advocacy group for migrants.
Having turned a new leaf, Eiguedo is ready to work with the government and other agencies to help counsel the youths against irregular migration and unplanned journey.
He has advice for those in power.
“Government should intervene and address housing challenges for the poor to stern the rural-urban drift.
“The attraction in Libya was that even though you don’t have money, you have access to food. When you work as cobbler or do menial jobs, you are assured of savings whereas in Nigeria, the reverse is the case. “I can’t go back to Libya because when you also make the money, you can’t transfer it home for good use.