“After I finished secondary school, there was no money for me to continue my studies so I had to go out in the real world and learn a craft so I could make some money. The state Nigeria is in right now is not good for anyone. Even in Libya, when I told people I was from Nigeria, they looked at me as though I was crazy. The economy is not balanced in my country. Some people have a lot while others don’t have anything. I didn’t have anything when I left back in 2014 – just one mother to look after.
I spent five days on the road on my way to Libya. The driver is supposed to carry 10 passengers, but they pile up 40 instead. Some people fell as the car was going; they broke their arms or legs while others died, but no one ever stopped for them. You wouldn’t believe how many dead bodies there are right now in the desert.
Once I got to Libya, I started working in a bakery. I worked hard for the next couple of years and had even managed to save some money, but a lot of bad experiences followed. There are some people in Libya they call informants. They look at you and judge how long you have been there for and if you are a hard worker, and they will kidnap you if they believe you have money. If you want to work in Libya, your work place can’t be too far from your house otherwise you risk getting kidnapped. At 20 pm everything shuts down.
They kidnapped me and asked for 10,000 dinars for my freedom. At home, if you have that kind of money, you are a rich man. My friends negotiated so they agreed on 5000 dinars instead. I couldn’t call my mother to tell her; she would have died knowing I was in prison. My friend topped up the 3000 I had saved with another 2000 so I managed to get out. Then last year they kidnapped me again and again I had to pay. What is the point of working if at the end of the day they kidnap you and steal all your money? I couldn’t go on like this anymore.
This route must be stopped. As a man, you can somewhat handle the risks this route entails, but as a woman, it’s terrible. They sell women into prostitution every day. I saw Nigerian girls as young as 15 forced to do it - it’s a nightmare. Hopefully, things will soon change in Nigeria and we can make a future for ourselves there.”
Copyright © 2017.International Organization for Migration Niger.