Indications shows that the 78 Libyan returnees, who are indigenes of Delta State, had ransom paid on their head by the Delta State Government before they were facilitated to be brought to their home state.
Although details of the transaction, which include how the ransom money was transferred or who facilitated the payment and to who were still sketchy, BigPen Online gathered that the state Commissioner for Economic Planning, Kingsley Emu had confirmed that the freedom being enjoyed by the returnees was negotiated and ransom paid for their release.
The 78 illegal migrant were part of the over 5,500 Nigerians which reports say the federal government had deployed high-powered delegation led by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Abdulrahman Dambazau, under the auspices of the European Union (EU) in conjunction with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to rescued from migrant camps and detention centers in Libya.
Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, represented by the Commissioner for Bureau for Special Duties, Barr. Ernest Ogwezzy who received the migrants on Tuesday in Asaba however said that, the State Government may not be able to do more than welcome the returnees back to the state for now, following the urgency of the situation and the bureaucracy associated with budgeting and funding.
He however dismissed speculation that victims of the state top the list of returnees, maintaining that “to say the tide is high in Delta State is unfounded; I think other state ranks higher on the list”.
Addressing the migrants at the reception packaged for them, the Commissioner for Economic Planning, Mr. Kingsley Emu said that they are at the stage were the returnees need to be profiled, to help know their interests, identify their health status before channeling them to skills acquisition, as it is upon profiling that they get to know want they were doing before and what they prefer to do now which is best for them, TheTrack had reported.
Emu who spoke in ‘pidgin’ English language while addressing the returnees said that their “return was negotiated and ransom paid”, stressing that he is very sure that they are very hardworking people, but only left because they assumed that the other side is greener, while foreigners come to Nigeria with a small bag pack but leave here millionaires and billionaires”.
“As e be now, if dey tell you to move down to Libya only you go say no abi? Dis one wen them they call negotiation, I hope say una know say dem negotiate una return? No, una nor know. This mean say dem negotiate, and pay ransom like kidnap case and I can say all of you are very, very hardworking people…, Emu asserted.
Meanwhile, the returnees have been absorbed by Governor Okowa into his Job and Wealth Creation skill acquisition empowerment programme in the state, New Telegraph had reported.
Special Adviser to the Governor on International Affairs, Dr. Genevieve Modi, speaking at the occasion, said her boss had given a directive for their immediate rehabilitation.
She said: “Governor Okowa provided the transit, food and other logistics in addition to what the federal government made available and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) provided. The state is going to absorb them in batches. They will fill the job creation forms before we can rehabilitate them”.
The returnees, who were between the ages of 18 and 28, described their ordeal in the dry lands of Kano to Niger republic to Agades and Libya as ‘awful and animalistic.’