Nigeria at the weekend protested the harassment of her citizens by Libyans in illegal migrants’ camps.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Geofrey Onyeama expressed the Federal Government’s displeasure when he met with his Libyan counterpart in Tripoli at the weekend.
The minister led a government delegation to the country to facilitate the release and evacuation of more than 5,000 Nigerian illegal migrants trapped in the North African country.
On the alleged maltreatment of Nigerians, Onyeama said: “We have made our feelings known to the relevant Ministers and we asked the Libyan government to stop it.”
A member of the delegation, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa said: “We got reports of extortion, beating, outright killing in anger, violation of rights and all forms of inhuman treatment. The delegation protested to Libyan
“The leader of delegation, Mr. Onyeama, had a session with Libyan Ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs where he lodged our protest. Some heads of various detention centres were also there. Although they denied maltreating Nigerians, they were warned by Libyan senior government officials to desist from such act if they had been doing it.
“We extracted a commitment from them that the illegal conduct will stop. We will however be documenting reports relating to misconduct by Libyan officials at the detention centres.”
Many of the returnees were however crying and begging President Muhammadu Buhari to rescue others in some parts of Libya apart from Tripoli.
After about 72 hours of talks, a Fact-Finding Committee Federal Government team evacuated 481 out of the estimated first batch of 5,000 Nigerians from Libya. They were flown to Port Harcourt last night.
The delegation reached a deal with the Libyan Government on how to locate all Nigerians trapped in the Arab country.
The Libyan Government allowed Nigerian fact-finding team to have access to four detention camps in Tripoli to meet with the trapped Nigerians.
The camps are Jejura Detention Centre, Sikka Detention Centre, Zanzu Detention Centre and Terie Matar..
There were indications however that the number of the stranded Nigerians was more than the 5,000 because more of them were sending distress messages to a member of the delegation, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who is the Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora affairs.
Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Mustapha Maihaja said: “We have started the evacuation of over 5,000 Nigerians from Libya to the Reception Centre in Port Harcourt.
“Those in the inaugural flight with Max Air were 481. We hope that in the next 19 days, we will be able to complete the evacuation. We are also using Medview Airline.
“Already, we have many officers on standby in Port Harcourt for profiling, medical examination and other relevant data. There is understanding with affected state governments to receive these returnees at the Reception Centre for rehabilitation and reintegration into the society.”
Speaking with our correspondent in Tripoli, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Onyeama said: “We have had useful discussions with the Libyan authorities on how to ensure smooth evacuation of Nigerians trapped in Libya.
“I think the number of those affected could be more than the initial figure of 5,000. This is why we have the technical team here.”
The returnees were accompanied back home by the minister, Senior Special Assistant to the President on The Diaspora and Foreign Affairs Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Director general of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Mustapha Maihaja and a Director in the office of the National Security Adviser Mr Abba Ibrahim.