401 Nigerians Return From Libya In 24 Hours


Lagos / Abuja, December 7, 2017// – Another batch of 257 Nigerians returned home from Libya early Wednesday morning.

This latest followed hot on the heels of another batch of 144 Nigerians who returned a few hours earlier.

Altogether, 401 Nigerians who had failed to migrate to Europe illegally through Libya returned to the country within a space of twenty-four hours.

The first batch of returnees was returned at 9p.m on Tuesday while the latest returnees touched down at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, at about 1:30a.m on Wednesday.

The returnees comprised 65 adult females, 179 adult males, seven children and six infants.

Ibrahim Farinloye, Spokesperson for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), South West zone, said the returnees arrived aboard a Libyan Airlines aircraft at the Cargo Wing of the airport at about 1.30a.m.

He said they were assisted back to Nigeria by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the European Union (EU).

He also confirmed that four of the returnees had medical cases and were promptly taken away on an ambulance for treatment.

He said the returnees were received by officials of NEMA, Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

On Tuesday night, a batch of 144 stranded Nigerians in Libya was deported in continuation of the massive repatriation of Nigerians in the North African country.

The Tuesday returnees arrived aboard a BURQA Airline Boeing 737-800 aircraft with registration number, 5N-DMG from Libya.

INDEPENDENT learnt that there had been a renewed drive to repatriate all stranded Nigerians from Libya amidst raging reports concerning a resurgence of slave trade in the Maghreb, especially Libya.

No fewer than 1,295 Nigerians in Libya were rescued in November alone, with more of them expected to be repatriated before the end of the year following reports that Nigerian irregular migrants were languishing in either Libyan cells or deportation camps.

The latest batch of returnees comprised 102 males and 42 females, including infants, who were received by agencies of the Federal Government including the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), among others.

The repatriation of the stranded Nigerians which started in 2016 is being done in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) which has provided the chartered aircraft to convey the returnees.

As at the time of filing in this report, another flight conveying other returnees was being expected from Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

Identifying Stranded Nigerians Major Challenge —FG

Meanwhile, Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs, has said the ministry officials were facing minor hitches in identifying those that are Nigerians with a view to evacuating them from Libya.

Beyond identification, Onyeama said most of the Nigerian victims were trapped in areas not officially recognised by the United Nations.

He noted that accessibility into such troubled areas was also a major challenge.

In view of these challenges, Onyeama said the Charge d’Affairs in Tripoli has been invited to come to Abuja to give full details of what was actually going on there.

He gave these updates at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Recall that the media have been awash with information that Nigerians who had gone to seek greener pastures in Europe through Libya had fallen victims of slave trade in the North African country.

“On the issue of Libya practising slave trade, of course, it has been in the news in the last two weeks; also, the imprisonment in various detention centres of Nigerians.

“What we’ve done is that first of all, we’ve got our Charge d’Affairs in Tripoli to come to Abuja to give us the full details of what is actually going on there.

“Especially how many Nigerians are in detention and are trying to come home? So, once we establish that and we are given all those facts, we are now meeting with various agencies like NEMA and NAPTIP to now arrange the evacuation process and this will be done in co-ordination with International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and see if we can very quickly repatriate all our Nigerian nationals who are there who want to return home.

“The charge d’ affairs said a number of Nigerians (and not all of them) do not want to come home. Certainly, it has to be those who want to come back home,” he told State House correspondents.




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