Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, on Tuesday joined officials of some government agencies as they received a fresh set of Nigerians flown home from Libya.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that no fewer than 144 Nigerians voluntarily returned home aboard a chartered Buraq Airlines aircraft with registration number 5A-DMG.
The aircraft landed at about 6.45pm at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
The returnees were assisted back by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the European Union (EU).
NAN reports that the Wife of the Governor of Lagos State, Mrs Bolanle Ambode, who represented the Wife of the President, Haija Aisha Buhari, was also present at the Hajj Camp area of the airport as the Nigerians returned.
The South West Zonal Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Alhaji Suleiman Yakubu , who gave a break down of the returnees, said they were made up of 97 males, 39 females, two children and six infants.
Addressing newsmen, Dabiri-Erewa, commended the IOM for facilitating the return of the Nigerians.
She, however, noted that there was need to keep the tempo of awareness high in order to stop Nigerians from embarking on the perilous journey in search of greener pastures in Europe.
One of the returnees, Mr Godsent Jatto, from Edo State, told NAN that he had a harrowing experience in Libya after being sold into slavery by fellow Nigerians.
He said :”I am so happy coming back to Nigeria. I will never dream in my life to pass through Kano to Libya again”
He said some were sold to the Arabs who will now start calling the Nigerians’ families in the village demanding for money for them to be released.
According to him, traffickers usually lie to people back in Nigeria that their relatives have crossed to Europe whereas some of them have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea.
“My advice to Nigerians that still want to embark on this journey is that they should not try it. Keep doing anything you are doing here because your country is your country,” he said.
Another returnee, Ms Caroline Ishola, an aspiring actress from Ekiti State, described her journey to Libya as a misadventure.
Ishola said: “My experience was bad. It is a very dangerous country. I was an actress before embarking on this journey and I paid the person who took me N400, 000 at first and paid more when I got to Libya.
“I was sold in Libya but thank God it was not into a connection house and at the end of the day the place was raided by the Police and we were arrested and that was how I got back.”
The fresh returnees came back days after a batch of 150 Nigerians voluntarily returned on Nov. 30 from the volatile North African country where they had been stranded enroute Europe.
Before then, many had also been assisted back home in batches.
As at the time of filing this report, another batch of Nigerians was being expected from Libya as their aircraft was said to be on the way from Tripoli. (NAN)