Sale of Africans in Libya: Reps condemn act, Senate begins probe
Members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday condemned the increasing cases of public auctioning of black Africans in Libya.
Also, the Senate has begun the investigation of the alleged sale of illegal African migrants “mostly Nigerians” as slaves in Libya, which it described as a slap on the face of Nigeria.
The Senate probe was based on a motion moved by Senator Baba Kaka Garbai (Borno-Central) at the plenary on Wednesday.
Describing the development as “slavery,” members of the House of Representatives asked the Federal Government to intervene with the aim of stopping it.
Two members, Mr. Saheed Akinade-Fijabi and Ms. Omosede Igbinedion, had moved a joint motion on the “Inhuman and barbaric act of slave trade involving the auctioning of black Africans in Libya” to ignite a lengthy debate on the floor in Abuja.
The session was presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun.
The members had observed that African migrants, desperately in search of “greener pastures” embarked on dangerous journeys to Europe from their home countries, only to get trapped in Libya.
The House called on the Nigerian Government to “liaise with the government of Libya to find a solution to the menace of migration and modern-day slavery in Libya.”
Leading the debate, Akinade-Fijabi, who is a member of the All Progressives Congress from Oyo State, said the migrants were mainly from Nigeria, Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Niger and Gambia.
His motion read partly, “The House also notes that on November 14, 2017, the US television network, CNN, broke the news of the auctioning of human beings in Libya with a live footage of the auctioning process in which young men were being sold to North African buyers as potential farm hands.
“One of the unidentified young men sold off for as little as $400 (N144,000) is said to be a Nigerian in his twenties.
“(The House) further notes that the footage of the auctioning of black Africans in the conflict-torn nation sparked outrage across the world with thousands of people taking to the streets of Paris, France, to protest against the modern-day slavery.
“In reaction, the African Union, on November 17, 2017, called on the Libyan authorities to investigate the matter.”
In her contribution to the debate, Igbinedion said the fate of the migrants was pathetic and required urgent actions by the Nigerian government to halt the dangerous journeys.
On her part, the Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations, Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, told the House that the situation was almost a hopeless case, as it would be difficult to identify which of the various groups in Libya seeking legitimacy, to discuss with.
But, the Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, argued that Nigerians were already slaves in their own country.
Gbajabiamila, who is from Lagos State, cited cases of young girls and boys, who were sent to the cities to serve the elite.
He noted, “That in itself, is slavery. These young children should be in school. What we see is that someone brings them to the city to serve as home helps in exchange for money.
“They come to collect the money either every month or whatever period is the agreed term. That is slavery. It is here with us.”
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said there was the need for Nigeria to do more to protect its citizens.
He said, “As a country, truly, it is a slap on the face of all of us if Nigerians can be treated in this manner. Like somebody said, Ivory Coast that is not as big as us is taking action to see how they can bring their own citizens back. We need to be doing similar things.”
The senators unanimously granted prayers of Garbai’s motion, including to “condemn in totality the current depravity and sheer animalism being exhibited by these Libyans selling fellow Africans as slaves.”
They also urged the Federal Government to urgently investigate how many Nigerians were affected by the slave sales.
The lawmakers also urged the Federal Government to urgently commence the process of repatriation and rehabilitation of Nigerian citizens “caught up in these despicable treatment and human rights abuses.”
The Senate further urged the Federal Government to “take all diplomatic steps, including summoning the Libyan ambassador in Abuja to brief the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to ensure that everyone involved is held accountable to face the full weight of international law and justice.”
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, made an additional prayer to “urge the governments at all levels in Africa to take steps to ameliorate the economic hardships feeding this migration crisis.”Punch