Vivian Loveth, a Nigerian returnee from Libya, has revealed how her failed trip abroad has led her parents into selling all their belongings, thereby losing their means of livelihood in the process.
Loveth said she was compelled by her trafficker to swear to an oath to refund £12,000 allegedly spent on her travel to France through Libya. She lamented that she was supposed to pay another £1,000 to the herbalist who performed the oath ritual on her.
Speaking on Tuesday night at the cargo wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, where 171 Nigerians were returned to the country from Libya, Loveth said that her plan was to go into prostitution in France, but her journey was caught short in Libya when she was abducted by two militia groups in the war-torn North African country.
She added that she decided to embark on the journey due to her humble background.
“I didn't mind it inasmuch as I can make my parents comfortable. On getting to Libya after much suffering on the road from Kano, I was held by some Libyans and my parents’ trafficker raised money to free me. Again, I was held by another group, but this time, I had to call my parents to raise money in order to free me,” the 22-year-old said.
“They sold everything they had to send to me, but I was able to return to Nigeria through the assistance of IOM when we could no longer proceed to my destination. I was made to swear that upon reaching France and starting work, I would pay my trafficker £12,000 and the herbalist £1,000 to settle all the expenses paid on me by my trafficker and the herbalist because I couldn't raise any money for the journey. Now I am back in Nigeria without anything to show for it. My parents will be worst hit and how can I help my parents to recover.”
The 171 returnees comprised 70 female adults, including nine pregnant women, and 90 male adults, three children and eight infants. Eight of the returnees returned to the country with health-related issues.
The stranded Nigerians were received at the MMIA by the officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). They were returned to the country through the assistance of the Organization for Migration (IOM).
The returnees arrived the cargo wing of the Lagos Airport via Buraq Airline with the registration number 5A-DMG at about 8:25 p.m and flight number UZ589. NEMA said that the returnees were brought from Zintan District of Libya.
Yakubu Suleiman, the South West Zonal Coordinator of NEMA, implored parents and guardians to stop encouraging their children and wards to embark on such perilous journeys.
He appealed to the returnees to be anti-trafficking champions, to disabuse the minds of those still trying to embark on such journey.
“We have been inundated with parents calling that they have lost contact with their children, while many would continue to raise money from home and send to children who would have been held captive and must be settled before their children would be set free,” he said.
“You have seen it all; experience is the best teacher. Today, all of you are saying you will never encourage any of your family members to travel outside to waste huge resources through illegal routes despite various risks and dangers you went through.
“I am begging you to also carry this message to the people you come across in life and share your experiences to discourage young people from wasting their energies and productive life in seeking wealth.”