The enslavement of Nigerians in Libya – Tribune

Not a few Nigerians were bothered about the news of the enslavement of some of their compatriots in Libya. The news became rather painful and embarrassing because the country is still smarting from the tragic loss of 26 women and girls who were allegedly heading to Europe to seek greener pastures but perished in the Mediterranean. The reality is that the narrative about Nigerians and other black Africans in Libya being treated as commodities to be bought and sold has been in the public domain for a while. But no one seemed to have paid any attention to that aspect of the tales of woe by Nigerians in that Arab country. Nigerian returnees from Libya have recounted this experience time and again.
The story of prostitution, rape, torture and summary execution of Nigerians in Libya would appear to have attracted more attention. The reality, however, is that the enslavement issue has become even more frightening and pernicious because the victims are not only being required to carry out tedious and dangerous tasks meant for slaves, their organs are allegedly being harvested to boost the trade in human organs. Many Nigerians were filled with consternation with the sad and disappointing revelation that some Nigerians are actively involved in this morally reprehensible, criminal but lucrative business beyond trafficking in human persons.
Perhaps more unsettling is the fact that the strong pull or attraction of Nigerian youths to Libya, ostensibly with Europe as the ultimate destination, has yet to wane. Gullible youths are still responding to deceitful advertisements by some organisations of immense opportunities in Europe and other places and the ease with which such opportunities could be accessed. This is in spite of the apparent failure of those who tried to achieve the set goals and their tales of calamity. To date, about 6,000 Nigerians have returned from Libya and none has had any good story to tell. Official efforts should therefore be geared towards bringing home all Nigerians, including those who have become the property of some Libyans through the instrumentality of slavery.
We recognise, and sadly too, that what can be done at diplomatic levels to rein in the horrendous stories coming out of Libya is limited by the virtual absence of a central authority. There are at least five governments in different parts of Libya. Various sections of the Arab country are under the control of groups which are more or less peopled by hoodlums and bandits who came into the saddle after the military and economic impairment of Libya by the West and the United States. Yet, the government of Nigeria must do all it can to protect its citizens wherever they may be.
A recent Cable News Network (CNN) documentary revealed all forms of cruelty perpetrated against black Africans in Libya. The documentary highlighted the precarious conditions of blacks in Libya after Muamar Ghadaffi, but their woes actually started during the war when the local opponents to Gaddhafi’s rule, backed by the West, erroneously and maliciously labelled blacks as mercenaries fighting for Ghadaffi. Consequently, the blacks that could not escape while the Civil War raged were reportedly treated harshly: tortured, raped, summarily executed and made to do forced labour. It should, therefore, be little surprising that the members of the then opposition, having now become a government of some sort, are now exercising the liberty to inflict pain and exacerbate the sufferings of blacks, or at best turn a blind eye when their citizens dehumanise them.
We commend the government for the efforts it has made to assist some returnees from Libya by way of monetary gifts and other forms of rehabilitation measures. But the most enduring panacea that can put paid to the often tragic adventures of Nigerian youths seeking greener pastures is to address the despicable socioeconomic climate at home. Nigeria is currently rated as having the largest absolute poverty —83 million out of 180 million— in the world and Nigerians currently live below less than $2 a day. Against the backdrop of these grave statistics, the desperation of vulnerable Nigerians, especially the youths, to travel abroad is understandable.
Nonetheless, it should also be realised that it is a person who is in good health and who is free, safe and secure that can aspire to achieve the desirable goal of economic well-being and prosperity. It has therefore become imperative to take concrete official actions to rein in the embarrassing exodus of Nigerians to some risky and dangerous spots in the world in search of better livelihood. For a start, advertisements and campaigns designed to hoodwink Nigerians on the so-called opportunities abroad should be criminalised while official steps that are capable of inspiring hope in the viability of the Nigerian economy and retaining the youths at home as active economic participants should be intensified

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