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Story of Peju’s “suicidal” trip to Libya from Lagos

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LIBYAPROSPECT – Kusai Rahal

AllAfrica website published a report on a woman named ‘Peju Akins’ (not real name), who was interviewed and told her story on her attempt to go to Europe through Libya. Her story begins by saying how she met a lady at a Sunday service in a church, who spoke to her about Libya, she painted a picture of Libya as a paradise and the streets of Tripoli “flowing with milk and honey.” She also told her she can make money there quickly and can then emigrate to Europe.

She said that she was happy to be alive as many people died during the one-month journey to Libya, through the desert, in particular between Niger and Tripoli. When reflecting on the trip, she said that it was a huge regret and a waste of two years.

Peju is a 26-year-old who has a National Diploma in business administration from the south side of Nigeria. She said that the first part of the trip from the capital city, Lagos to the commercial capital of Nigeria, Kano was fun. But the trip from Kano to Agadez in the Niger Republic was very stressful. Herself and others had to travel 715KM with no papers. They were getting exploited by Nigerian gendarmes, but the real horror started in Agadez.

She also spoke about how they were treated as merchandise, where people who paid more were favored. They had to stay an extra five days in Agadez because trips through the deserts were only on Mondays. She said they met hundreds of black people from across sub-Saharan Africa to start the trip to Libya, a trip she described as “suicidal.”

She stated that between the city of Agadez and Gartoun in Niger and Sabha in Libya, the group were kidnapped multiple times by militia groups and the groups raped some of the ladies. She described the journey as one with multiple shootings, but she was in a vehicle where no one was hit.

Once Peju and the others arrived in Tripoli, they cleaned up and went to a compound, which they called ‘connection house.’ The ‘Connection House’ is nothing more than a dumb for a brothel. When they arrived two ladies, one was a Yuroba, and the other an Ibo from Nigeria asked the women what kind of sex work would they want to start with. Peju and the other ladies protested by saying they are not sex workers and they came to Libya to be housemaids, not prostitutes. The women were punished by being locked in a cellar with no food or water and were abused.

On the brink of death on day 5, the owners called in a nurse to clean and feed them, they were given a mobile phone to contact their families in Nigeria to wire N500,000 (Nigerian currency) to them or they would be drugged and forced into prostitution. Peju was lucky, as her father paid them, and she was converted into a salesperson for the Yuroba woman, making sure the prostitutes had everything they needed.

She continued to talk about the stories she saw in the connection house. The clients would take all sorts of drugs: Cocaine, Tramadol, and hashish. The clients would take sex enhancers that prolong the act, and they would abuse the girls often from bruises to some bleeding from their private parts. She would recall of hearing women screaming and crying.

She left her job at the brothel to become a maid; she was getting paid N60,000 by a generous Arab family, and later became completely free and was selling Nigerian food, such as beans and tradition food, etc. she was sharing an apartment with a Nigerian family.

Her freedom was short lived when Libyan authorities raided her apartment and arrested them on the grounds of being illegal immigrants. They were locked up in jail for a couple of days and then were asked to pay N100,000 each to secure their freedom. Even though peju had the money, she told them she wouldn’t pay and wanted to go back to Nigeria. After that, she wasn’t allowed to go back to her apartment of the property.

The Libyan immigration allowed her to purchase temporary traveling documents and escorted her to the airport to jump on a plane to Niamey in Niger. When in Niger she met a Nigerian man, who gave her 25,0000 francs with which she flew back to Lagos.

She concluded her interview by sending out an appeal to all Nigerian young people to not succumb to the traffickers because it is not worth it, and not to fall into the trap of wanting to go to Europe through Libya. It is a risk not worth taking.