Nigeria is protesting to Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC), Britain and France the killing of its nationals in the troubled North African country.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Amb. Olugbenga Ashiru abandoned a church service yesterday to take distress calls of Nigerians in Libya, including their co-ordinator, Mr. Daramola Siji.
Nigerians are being attacked in Tripoli, Benghazi, Gath, Agadez and Sirte, the hometown of the embattled Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, whose 42-year grip on power has been removed by a six-month insurgency.
A source said: “Unharmed Nigerians are being killed in tens for no just cause. In some instances, they rape Nigerian women before shooting them to death.
“Yet, this is the same TNC that the Federal Government is backing in Libya. The blacks are not involved in Libyan crisis; they do not deserve this massacre.”
In one of the distress notes sent to the Presidency and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Siji, who is from Emure-Ekiti, said: “We cannot go out of our homes, my wife and children. We will certainly be shot. We don’t have food and we lack everything.
“We can save lives. I am calling on AU to act and save African families boxed in troubled Libya and if anyone could reach out to the Nigerian government to stop the killing of Nigerians by the former rebels who are now the new leaders in Libya, it will be better.”
In a telephone chat with our correspondent, Siji gave details of how Nigerians have become the targets of the rebels.
He added: “The truth is that when Gaddafi was in office, he had sympathy for black Africans and many have even settled in Libya.
“In fact, there is a city in Southern Libya called Suyima that is mostly populated by Nigerians, especially the Hausa. The city shares borders with Algeria and Niger.
“But due to Gaddafi’s sympathy for the blacks, the rebels assumed that the blacks will naturally do everything to protect Gaddafi. So, they decided to kill any black man on sight.
“Nigerians have been the butt of the attacks on the blacks because the rebels could hardly differentiate them from Ghanaians, Malians, Nigerians, Burkinabes, Senegalese and Gambians.
“They are really killing many Nigerians and this is just unfortunate.”
The Nation learnt that Amb. Ashiru was moved into action after getting the distress call yesterday. He shelved a church service to attend to the calls.
A government source said: “Apart from talking to Siji directly, the Minister also reached out to the TNC, Britain and France on the need to stop the killing of black migrant workers, especially Nigerians.
“For about five hours yesterday, the Minister was talking to the TNC leaders, Britain and France on why the genocide must stop.
“The Federal Government has pleaded with Britain and France to prevail on the TNC leaders to ask their foot soldiers to end the massacre of blacks in Libya.
“I think immediate action has been taken and there will be respite for not only Nigerians, but all the blacks in Libya.
“The government has also asked the TNC to liaise with Siji, who will now serve as a coordinator or Liaison Officer on how to protect the blacks, especially Nigerians.
“Also, the Nigerian Ambassador to Ethiopia has been asked to relate with the Nigerian community in the Libyan cities. The Ambassador will also work directly with the TNC.
“The Ambassador is also expected to send hourly situation reports to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where a desk has been opened to monitor TNC’s attitude to blacks, especially Nigerians, in Libya.”
This is the second time in the last four days that the Federal Government has protested to its TNC ally in Libya over the massacre of black migrant workers.
The Minister said Thursday: “The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria wishes to note with concern reports of incessant abuse of helpless civilians in Libya by some unscrupulous elements who continue to take undue advantage of the ongoing crisis in that country, particularly to carry out attacks on Black migrant workers and other Black Africans stranded in Libya arising from crisis in that country.
“Regrettably, these reports revealed outright killings, rape and extortion of money from these helpless Africans who have taken refuge in camps as well as those in detention and incarceration.
“This development is a deviation from the overall expressed desire of the TNC, the African Union and indeed the United Nations for the restoration of democracy and good governance in Libya.
“These extra-judicial killings certainly run contrary to Nigeria’s call for the leadership of the TNC to be magnanimous in victory and can only stand in the way of peace building, early reconciliation and reconstruction in Libya.
“While confirming that the concern of the Nigerian government on this reported development has accordingly been brought to the urgent attention of the representative of the TNC, the government seizes this opportunity to call on the leadership of the TNC to immediately take steps to check the excesses of these unscrupulous elements in Libya in order to pave the way for the restoration of genuine democracy and true reconciliation for all Libyans.
“Nigeria reiterates its support not only for the yearnings for political freedom by the Libyan people, but also in the ability of the leadership of the TNC to restore order in the Libyan society at the shortest possible time.
“Government believes that the immediate task for the enthronement of democracy, rule of law, political and socio-economic reconstruction and development in Libya should be carried out without hindrance.”
Images of black Africans camping near the port in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, were shown on Sky News yesterday.
The refugees spoke of attacks by the rebels, who raped women. Many immigrants have been killed, they said.
(source: The Nation )