- Category: Diaspora
- Published on Monday, 21 March 2011 05:36
- Written by The Nation
- Hits: 2002
Scores of Nigerians are still stranded in Libya, contrary to the claim of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to have evacuated them.
Chairman of Nigerian Union in Tripoli, Raphael Ajibare while reacting to NEMA’s claim, said: "They left me here. Am I not a Nigerian? They want me to be stranded. There are still a lot of people in Tripoli, Benghazi, and Cyba."
Last Thursday, NEMA’s Director-General, Muhammed Sani-Sidi, said between Monday and Wednesday, NEMA had airlifted 1, 784 Nigerians, bringing the total number of evacuees to 4, 000, adding that the exercise has ended.
Also, the Nigerian Charge D’Affaires in Libya, Mr. Harun Umar, who accompanied the last batch said: "there are no more Nigerians at the Tripoli International Airport."
But, Ajibare said: "About 450 people are currently in the airport and many people are in town, waiting for a plane to take them back to Nigeria. They didn’t take people in Cyba or Benghazi and it is just half of the people in Tripoli they packed."
One of the evacuees, Morufu Abdulazeez, an Islamic teacher, who has been in Tripoli for the past 14 years was among the 547 passengers evacuated aboard a Kabo Air plane on Monday. He also discountenanced the government’s claim.
Reacting to the claim that all Nigerians in Libya had been evacuated, Abdulazeez, who is also an elder council chairman of Yoruba descendants in Tripoli said: "that is not true. I have been in contact with Nigerians in Libya and they are still expecting flights to come and take them."
Ajibare said about two weeks ago, five women and two men, died of cold while waiting at the Tripoli International Airport to be brought back to Nigeria. "I’m fed up with the Nigerian government. We are crying out. Here in Libya, our mind is not at rest," he said.
On safety, he said Nigerians in Tripoli did not face much problem. "This is because this is where the President stays. But the surroundings are still not safe. Black Africans are targets. We can only come out by 10:00am and enter the house by 5:00pm. They (Libyans) can start shooting guns anytime."
Ajibare said many Nigerians in Benghazi had left for the Egyptian border.
A relative of Ajibare, Sikiru, who resides in Benghazi and has a Libyan friend guiding him told a story of despair. He left for Libya three years ago and trained as a welder in Benghazi, where he stays.
He said: "They (Libyans) don’t need us. They want black people to leave their country. They (Libyans in Benghazi) said the president (Ghadaffi) is sending black people to kill them. I’m thinking of moving. I want to leave but it is because of money. You know the conditions of things at home (Nigeria) now."
Eventhough calm is gradual returning, many Nigerians trapped in Cyba, southern Libya, , Tripoli and Benghazi cannot leave.
"Many wish to leave but they cannot. As it is now, email contact is blocked and it is only through GSM that Nigerians in the country can be contacted.
"Internet connections have been blocked amidst the exodus by foreign nationals".
Though, the southern part of Libya is calm, Korede Alabi, the chairman of Nigerian Union in Cyba, is pleading for the evacuation of Nigerians. "We appeal to the government to come to our aid. The companies where many Nigerians are working is closed down," said Alabi.
Alabi, a pharmacist working with the Red Crescent in Cyba, in a phone chat said: "They (Nigerians) are worrying me. We are hoping the government will send flights here."
In Brak, which is also in the southern part of Libya, the Chairman of Nigerians Union there, Matthew Osakwe, said apart from the hike in prices of goods and the stagnant economy, there is calm there. But, Osakwe said about 800 Nigerians living there want to return home as the situation is no longer conducive for them. "There are road blocks everywhere and prices of things are so exorbitant because most things we buy are imported and flights have not been coming in," he said.
"Actually many Nigerians want to come home but no flights have come to the south and travelling to Tripoli is very dangerous. Movement has been restricted and if you don’t have your papers you might end up in a detention camp," said Osakwe, a currency dealer.