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12 Jan 2018

Libya Slave Trade: 3 Traffickers In Trouble As FG Evacuates 972 Trapped Nigerians

As many as 972 Nigerians trapped in Libya have been evacuated as some traffickers land in serious trouble with the law.
The Treeq Alsika Migrant Detention Centre in Tripoli, where some migrants are held by Libyan authorities before they are repatriated. PHOTO: CNN.
According to a a report by the Nigerian Tribune,  the Federal Government on Thursday disclosed that it has arrested three suspected human traffickers involved in the enslavement of Nigerians in Libya and are currently under investigation.

This is just as the Federal Government has said it has successfully evacuated 972 Nigerians out of the 5000 trapped in the North African, while more returnees were expected in the country yesterday.

Director-General of National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Dame Julie Okah-Donli, made this known in Abuja while briefing newsmen on the effort of the government to repatriate Nigerians being held in detention camps in Libya.

She disclosed that nine pregnant ladies and five babies were also among the returnees.

She said: “Two suspected traffickers were also arrested and under investigation. A female returnee who was also identified as a trafficker has been transferred to our Lagos Zonal Command for further investigation”.

“As you may be aware, out of the  5000 Nigerians already located in different detention camps in Libya, 972 in two batches of 485 and 487 have already returned.

“Another batch is expected today (yesterday) and more will continue to come back until the operations are completed,” Okah-Donli, said.

She noted out of those that have returned so far, Edo State has the highest number of 533 returnees, followed by Delta State with 128.

This is followed by Yobe State with 28, while Imo State and Ogun states have 25 each.

Ondo State has 17 and Oyo has 15. 27 State have their indigenes so far returned while 9 States and the Federal Capital Territory have not yet recorded any returnees. The State are Bornu, Adamawa, Gombe, Taraba, Bauchi, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger.

She noted many more Nigerians might have been trapped in the North African country based on the investigation carried out when the Federal government delegation led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama visited the country.

She said: “We interacted with Libyan authorities and visited four camps. There was this particular detention camp we went to, they told us there were 350 Nigerians. The Honourable of Foreign Affairs insisted on seeing the Nigerians where they were being held as against bringing them out to meet.

“Behold, at the end of the day we saw about 600 Nigerians in the camp, which obviously show that they are not ready to let my people go because they are seen as economic tools for them. They use them for forced labour and s3xual exploitation,” she said.

She said the Federal Government has set machinery in motion to fish out those involved in the trafficking or smuggling of these returnees and present them to the Courts for prosecution, saying this was the only way to ensure that proper justice is given to the victims.

She commended President Muhammadu Buhari, for the bold step in the evacuation of the trapped Nigerians in Libya noting this would go into history as the biggest evacuation of Nigerians ever by a Nigerian Government.

The NAPTIP boss said this also showed the great interest of the President in the protection of the lives of Nigerian citizens no matter where they are across the globe and irrespective of their migration status.

She disclosed that NAPTIP at the commencement of this operation deployed over 40 personnel of the Agency including Counselors, caregivers, investigators and public enlightenment officers to Port Harcourt to assist in profiling the returnees and providing them with psychosocial assistance.

“Our Shelters have been prepared to receive them while arrangements have been made to move some of them to shelters run by our partners when there is a spillover in ours,” she said.

She appealed to States that are already mounting pressure on the operations in Port Harcourt to take away their indigenes to ensure that those they are taking are properly rehabilitated, insisting that any State Government that is interested in the rehabilitation and reunification of the returnees from their States must meet the minimum standards for sheltering, rehabilitation and reunification of victims.

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