The trans-Atlantic slave trade era is gone but Nigerians are being sold as slaves in the African country of Libya.
Earlier this week, CNN published an article and released a video of a slave auction of a Nigerian in Libya.
He was part of a group of young men described by the auctioneer as “big strong boys for farm work.”
This type of slave auctions is common in Libya. The country has been a transit nation for many Nigerians and Africans to get to the Mediterranean and eventually Europe illegally.
This has been going on for years but recently the Libyan authorities are clamping hard on this movement of desperate Africans to Europe.
What this means is that fewer Nigerians are making it to Europe illegally. The smugglers are left with a backlog of desperate Nigerians who have sold all they had to undergo this journey for a better life abroad.
Most Nigerians who go through this route are economic migrants frustrated about the lack of opportunities in the country.
Sadly many of them do not end up in the promised land. A lot of them don’t even get on the boats that will take them to Italy. That itself is a risky journey as many people end up drowning along the way.
For others, it is worse. This month, 26 Nigerian girls and women were raped and murdered on a boat that was heading to Italy.
There are many Nigerians who don’t even get to the boats. With no way to make it to Europe due to tighter security in Libya these days, many are sold off as slaves.
“Some reports are truly horrifying and the latest reports of 'slave markets' for migrants can be added to a long list of outrages,” said Mohammed Abdiker who is the International Organization for Migration in April 2017.
These auctions take place in normal towns in Libya. Even though they are not chained, these Nigerians have been mentally scarred for life. Nigerians are sold for $400 or less.
One of such Nigerians is Victory, 21 from Edo state. Tired of the economic conditions in Nigeria he left for Europe. He never made it. He spent 16 months on the road. The farthest he got was Libya.
When his money finished he was sold as a slave as a means to service his debt. “If you look at most of the people here, if you check your bodies, you see the marks. They are beaten, mutilated” he told CNN at the detention centre for migrants located in the capital Tripoli.
Victory finally got released from his smugglers after they collected ransom from his family in Nigeria. Victory spent over N1m to make it to Europe. All he got in return was slavery.
Despite the tightening security conditions in Libya and other African countries, more Nigerians are still going there to make it to Europe.
The sad truth is that most will end up dead or in slavery.