Victimized by their own ‘mafia’ Nigerian brothers and sisters
LONDON, the UK – The world at large has condemned the harsh and demonic manners in which Libyans have treated sub-Sahara African migrants, as CNN documentary and other media groups reporting have uncovered.
The sight of these incidences and the trends have generated global outcry and backlash against Libya, a disorderly Arab African nation in North Africa. Several African leaders in joining the world to chastise Libya have accused the North African country of racism and crimes against their African “brothers and sisters”.
However, events being narrated by victims tell a different story and hence have implicated other sub-Sahara African mafia syndicates, mainly Nigerians. Several victims have reported that it is not only the Libyans who are profiting from the “migrant business.”
Many victims, mostly vulnerable Nigerians, have said that the illegal migrants’ exploitation scheme is an operation of dangerous and organized Nigerian cartels. According to the victims, they have been the prey of sub-Saharan mafia groups, especially Nigerians.
A Nigerian national named Daniel said he was a student when smugglers convinced him to travel to Europe, which many migrants perceived as the track to an affluent life.
“In two weeks, you will be in Italy,” the Nigerian smuggling mafia group promised him.
About 10 months later, the 28-year-old Daniel was deported to Benin City, his hometown, after suffering kidnapping, violence and forced labor. His legs were slashed by electric wire burns.
Daniel said: “We feel cheated. It was a trap. The guys who did that to us are the ones who collected money from us” to go to Europe.
Some 200 Nigerians repatriated that day along with Daniel could hardly begin to describe the horrors they had suffered in Libya.
Accordingly, Daniel paid 550,000 nairas (1,290 euros, $1,530) to a criminal organization for his assured route to Europe.
“When I arrived in Libya the contact I had there told me that the money was finished and that I should pay 500,000 extra,” he said.
Despite Daniel’s story, many hold the belief that the Arabs are racist and dangerous. One victim told media groups that: “The Arab man doesn’t like Africans.”
According to a report in the Nigerian Pulse newspaper, “Nigerian gangsters are challenging the Italian mafia in its home turf of Sicily.” In the photo, Italian police arrested two suspected members of a Nigerian ‘mafia’ group operating out of Sicily and Lagos.
Based on the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) reports, about 250,000 sub-Saharan African migrants have been living in Libya, as of the end of September this year. The largest number of them, about 95 percent, are from Nigeria, a nation of 190 million people with a culture of endemic and structural corruption.
The most alarming aspect of the entire picture is that IOM has also indicated that the estimates provided are “certainly lower than the reality.” This means, there could be about half a million sub-Sahara Africans stranded in Libya.
The real question is: What is the Nigerian government doing about the underlying situation that has and continues to lead to the migrant issue as well as the smuggling situation? To blame the Libyans is one thing, but Nigeria and other sub-Sahara African leaders must reflect and cast the first blame on themselves for bad governance, corruption, and instability that have continued to subject their citizens to unfavorable conditions around the world.