172 Nigerians were on Friday 11th March 2016, reportedly deported from Libya under the voluntary returnee programme organised by the International Organisation for Migration, IOM.
The Nigerian Immigration Service confirmed the return of the deportees, saying that the voluntary returnee programme done in conjunction with the European Union and the Italian government, supports stranded illegal migrants willing to go home to return to their countries.
The deportees who comprised of 166 males and six females arrived the hajj camp area of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport around 7:00 am, and were said to be deported to the country for overstaying their visas in Libya in addition to committing other immigration offences in the North African country.
The returnees were received by various agencies such as Immigration that checked their identities to ascertain their nationalities, Police, National Agency for Protection and Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and other relevant organisations.
However on Sunday, March 13th, Thirty-nine (39) of the reported 172 Nigerian deportees were received by Pastor T.B. Joshua of The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) during his church service.
Pastor T.B. Joshua of The Synagogue, who is well known for his charitable gestures is reported to have given each of the deportees the sum of N100,000, which is N3.9 million ($20,000) in total, according to a post on the church’s official Facebook page.
The were also provided with toiletries alongside brand new clothing, as they had worn the same set of clothes since their arrival in Nigeria.
The returnees upon arriving in Lagos with only the clothes they came with, were provided with a meagre N6,500, leading to resentful outbursts from many at the airport.
A group of them frustrated, angry and despondent, decided to seek refuge at The SCOAN, having watched Emmanuel TV in Libya, the church wrote on their Facebook page.
Prophet T.B. Joshua, learning of their arrival in the church, immediately sent evangelists to provide food, alongside medical aid to some of the most malnourished in their midst, and gave the young men N3.9 million ($20,000).
Many of the returnees were emotionally moved and shed tears as they appreciated the man of God for his kind gesture saying; “If not for a man like T.B. Joshua, most of us would have ended up going into armed robbery, kidnapping or even joining a group like Boko Haram.”
Fidelis Onos, who spoke on behalf of the group, explained that United Nations officials visited the Nigerians in the Libyan prison and were touched at their plight, promising to arrange their repatriation back to Nigeria.
They were finally able to travel under the voluntary returnee programme organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
Onos said that most of them had been imprisoned for up to one year in Libya after they were suddenly arrested. The majority were working as bricklayers in the North African country where they had sought ‘greener pastures’.
“We are not here to blame Libya, if Nigeria was okay, we would never have left in the first place. It’s the war in Libya that turned it to what it is today – in a place where there is no government, what can you expect?” Fidelis said.