Irregular migrants from Northern Nigeria tell of suffering in Libya

The alarming rate of irregular migration has become a major issue in Nigeria. While most of the emphasis has focused on people from the southern parts of Nigeria, irregular migration affects those in the northern regions as well.

The Migrant Project (TMP) conducted interviews in the north  Nigeria with migrants who had experience with irregular migration, which revealed that many Nigerians from the north are also part of this trend. Although their journeys and intended destinations are often different from their southern counterparts, they are nonetheless on the move.

TMP spoke to three individuals from the north, who have recently been repatriated to Nigeria from Libya and who have firsthand experience with irregular migration. Their accounts confirmed that the destinations of choice for irregular migrants from the north are North Africa and the Middle East, as opposed to their southern counterparts who mainly aim to reach Europe. However, their primary motivation is the same: to gain employment and earn some income that they can return home with.

Mohammed Yusuf said he used to rear cows in his hometown in Yobe State before his decision to travel to Libya, “My intention was to go to Libya, make some money and come back. I never thought of going to the Europe,” he said. However, upon arrival in Libya, he was kidnapped and held captive for 32 days before he was released. His family had paid NGN 50,000 (USD 165) in ransom for his freedom.

“I saw hell in Libya and at a point I prayed to God to spare my life. However, when I couldn’t endure what I was going through there, I found my way to the Nigerian embassy in Libya and reported to them that I wanted to come back,” he said.

Abubakar Useni, 22, is also from Yobe State. He travelled to Libya where he spent three years in detention before he was brought back to Nigeria by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Prior to his journey, he was a farmer, but was convinced that he could make money easily in Libya. “I grew crops such as guinea corn, millet, maize and beans. I was making good money then but some people I met in the market where I used to go to sell my farm produce told me that things were much easier in Libya and that I would make money quicker in Libya than here in Nigeria.”

Haruna Saleh Kabiru, 22, also spoke of his experience. “I saw dead bodies, accidents, armed robbers among other terrible things but I was not hurt. I spent one month on the road before I got to Libya,” he said. “In Libya, I suffered to the extent that I regretted even going there because I was actually making more money here in Nigeria than I was making there.”

TMP – 03/11/2018

Photo credit: TMP. Photo caption: Three migrants from the Northern part of Nigeria who were returned to Nigeria by the IOM.