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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Solomon Okoduwa: "Why Nigerians were Massacred in Libya

TerryG, the 'Akpako' master is at it again, this time he's opted for a multi coloured hairstyle which he's called 'Swagalazito'. Obviously when you're a celebrity you tend to get away with a lot, hence we have no right to fault or tease him for this ridiculous hairstyle.
 Now my problem is the 'Lagos copycats', I'm seriously hoping they don't adopt this as a new hair trend because I certainly don't want to walk the streets of Lagos only to see our boys in multi coloured braids, that'll be so wrong in many ways.
He gave horrible account of the sufferings of Nigerians in Libya since the commencement of the civil war and stressed the need for the returnees to be inculcated into the society so as to avoid crime. He disclosed that thousands of Nigerians were massacred in the war- torn country, just as he pleaded with the Federal Government to also make effort to bring some of the Nigerians stranded in the southern part of Niger home so that they will not starve to death.

According to him, "I stayed in the city of Tripoli, about 15 kilometers away from the Nigerian Embassy. I worked with the Nigerian Embassy, not as a staff but we liaised between Nigerians living in Libya and the Libyan government. We have four different regions in Libya, we have the Midwestern region, we have the Odua region, we have the Arewa and the Ohanaeze region. The crisis actually started on the 15th of February 2011 and it was inspired by some Arab countries.

What happened was that some people protested in the city of Benghazi and Gaddafi invited them for a meeting to solve the problem. They demanded that they wanted the sanction on the banned Islamic groups in the country who were imprisoned without trial to be lifted. These imprisoned people are seen as radicals and Gaddafi believed that if he allowed them to operate, they would definitely work with Al-Qaida and that would be a big problem for Libya. So, what he did was to arrest these people and dump them in prison. So the people of Benghazi demanded that these people must be released, that they are not criminals. Based on that, the people of Benghazi threatened to cause problem unless those 100 people were released from prison. Due to the pressure, Gaddafi now freed thousands of prisoners including the 100 Islamic scholars in prison. So a lot of Nigerians who were in prison benefited from that gesture. We have had over 4000 Nigerians in Libyan prisons. Some of them were drug peddlers, illegal immigrants and things like that. Some of them were imprisoned for 20-25 years. But after that, they told Gaddafi that releasing those people would not end the problem and that they wanted salary increase. So, he doubled their salary thinking he would use the money to buy their conscience.

Even after increasing their salaries, he told every family to go to the bank and collect the equivalent of $500. But the people of Benghazi refused to collect the money and Gaddafi now said that since they refused the money, even when he had released members of the Islamic group , it means they are now rebels. So he sent some fighters from Tripoli to go and bomb these protesters in Benghazi but when the soldiers got there ,they could not. They informed the people of what they came for and escaped to Malta.

Why Nigerians were massacred

So Gaddafi deployed black soldiers in the Southern part of Libya. Most of them were foreigners and when they got to Benghazi, they started killing people. Because of that, Benghazi people declared war on blacks accusing them of working for Gaddafi. That was how they started killing any blackman they saw in Libya. Most of our people were butchered like animals. That was how the massacre started. Unfortunately, no Nigerian was among those who killed people on the orders of Gaddafi in Benghazi. We only had some Chadian soldiers, Niger and Burkina Faso soldiers. This particular squad were specially trained to defend Gaddafi and that was the first people he used to attack the city of Benghazi. That was how Nigerians started having problem in Libya. We have about 80-90,000 Nigerians in Libya.

"The Nigerians who were in prison were innocent. Some of our people because of lack of jobs became informants to the Libyan police and they are paid for it. But the truth is that this crisis helped Nigerians a lot in Libya because all the prisons were opened and that was how they escaped. There are some Nigerians in Libya who want fast money and as a result, would not want to get themselves involved in legitimate businesses and these are the people that were in prison. We also had many of them who were innocent but were roped- in one way or the other.

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