How I became a slave in Libya – Nigerian victim

Victory Imasuen, the slavery victim whose story on CNN sparked global outcry.
Victory Imasuen, the slavery victim whose story on CNN sparked global outcry.

The Edo State indigene, whose emotion-laden interview with CNN’s Nima Elbagir in a Libyan deportation camp, was viewed by millions worldwide, shared his life-experiences in T.B. Joshua’s church on Sunday.

The young barber explained that his father died when he was just 11, adding that he struggled to sponsor himself through school along with his five siblings.

“When I was cutting the hair of one of my customer’s, he advised me to go to Europe where he promised I could earn a lot of money,” Mr. Imasuen recounted.

“I asked the man how much it would cost me. He said N350,000 but I said I only had N140,000 with me,” he said.

Mr. Imasuen had been determinedly saving N10,000 monthly for over one year.

The man promised to ‘help’, not knowing that Mr. Imasuen was naively about to use his own hard-earned cash to sell himself into slavery.

Travelling by road on a tortuous journey through Niger, the young Nigerian explained how one of the vehicles in his convoy had a “terrible accident” in the Sahara Desert, killing 30 people instantly.

“Upon arriving in Libya, the driver said he had not been paid his money and we were sold into the slave trade in Sabha.”

Mr. Imasuen said he and ten other Nigerians were ‘sold’ and then “locked up in one small room.”

More than 200 slaves were kept inside that inhumane cell.

“They started beating me to call my mother to send money. That was when my mother learned I was not in Nigeria – because I did not tell her before I left,” he admitted.

The ransom they demanded – N200,000 – was simply too much for Mr. Imasuen’s poverty-stricken mother to raise.

“For months, I did not hear from her. They kept on beating me everyday and I fell sick. If I went to the toilet, I was shitting blood.”

Mr. Imasuen said he was beaten three times daily for eight gruelling months. That was his fate as a male.

For the ladies sold into slavery, “they would send them out to do prostitution before selling them to another person; I know of a girl there who was sold three times.”

According to him, most of the enslaved females fell pregnant “without even knowing the father of the child.”

When a picture of Mr. Imasuen’s emaciated condition was circulated in his local community, they managed to come together to raise the money to secure his freedom in March 2017.

After gaining his freedom, he attempted to travel to Tripoli, hoping to join the thousands of illegal migrants who would brave the sea to try and reach Italy by boat.

“I didn’t even get to Tripoli before I was caught and taken to prison. I met more than 10,000 Nigerians there. We only eat once a day there – one piece of bread. I would drink salt water.”

While suffering the horrific prison conditions, Mr. Imasuen hatched a plan to reach the deportation camp.

He slipped a note into the female section of the prison, pleading that any of the ladies who was being taken for deportation claim he was their husband.

The ruse worked and Mr. Imasuen was taken to Tripoli’s main deportation camp – one step closer to being repatriated to Nigeria.

It was there he granted an interview to CNN, he said.

“I decided to speak to them, hoping to get help but at the end, nothing came out of it,” he bemoaned.

Through the intervention of the International Organisation for Migration, IOM, Mr. Imasuen was finally deported to Nigeria – with nothing but the clothes on his back to show for his “journey through hell”.

“Upon getting to Nigeria, I decided to come to T.B. Joshua because even before I left, I heard of the help he renders to others. I need prayer.”

Osazee Aghimie, another deportee, equally shared his own sorrowful tale, explaining how over 100 migrants died in the boat he was in after it capsized en route to Italy. He narrowly survived only to be thrown into prison and eventually deported.

T.B. Joshua, who had just turned from the Dominican Republic, gave the two men each N200,000. Mr. Imasuen could not hold back tears as he received the gift.

Mr. Joshua’s support to the duo is not an isolated instance. This week alone, the cleric gave over N4.4 million to Nigerians returning from Libya, and well over N100 million ($277,000) has been provided to them by The SCOAN since 2016.


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  • KBE

    When them day tell una you no dey hear word. See your life. You wasted money, wasted time and some of you wasted your life. You have come back empty handed to meet us that stayed back in Nigeria better than when you left. We have survived against all odds in Nigeria and we are full of hope for better tomorrow. The painful part is that as we speak some are still raising money to travel through the same route and there is nothing anybody can say that will make them change their mind. They will tell you…….ALL DIE NA DIE………

  • 45Degree

    This Imasuen, na real agracha boy. After they beat you continuously 3 times for 8 months, your village people put together N200k ONLY for you to escape THEN you attempted to continue on your perilous journey to Italy from Tripoli? Now, you don enter T.D. Joshua “jail.”

    I feel sorry for you because, you don’t have a father figure at home to advice you correct. You were doing barbering; able to provide basic needs for your self AND save N10k per month. That is still too “small” for you? Why didn’t you take that N140k to expand your business and get more workers to barb in your shop. Or get a bigger shop? You now how much be monthly minimum wage? Na N18k.

    • FineBoy

      Have pity on him.
      The Bible says, Take heed what you hear and take heed how u hear.

      The Customer that sold him Europe idea is the Devil that wrecked him.

      Quest for money at all cost is the root of this evil.

      Sad tale all made possible because Obama and Clinton killed Gaddafi

  • marc umeh

    Those who survived are the lucky ones. Nobody knows how many are drugged and their kidneys harvested for onward transportation to Europe. At least their body part will get their even if they don’t.

  • Tony Ani

    Whatever anyone may believe, TB Joshua is a compassionate man of God.

    • Oladele

      Even if he is a man of the devil, he is by far better than many of them. Even to attend church convention you have to pay rent at the University hostel adjoining the church, to make matters worse, those who got allocations were reselling to fellow members. Capitalist

      • Tony Ani

        Does Joshua have a University hostel?

        • Oladele

          talking about another church, to buttress your point!

  • Rams dell

    Do not produce children who you can not support. So poor but have 6 children. Animal?

    • Oladele

      Why? You do not know the man or circumstances of his life. He died when this boy was 11, meaning his siblings were even younger. It is not impossible he was doing well before death; I know a woman with three months old baby and the family of her late husband came and collected all their belongings claiming it was their son’s. They left her in an empty rented room and palour and also cleared the kitchen including pots etc.Blacks are wicked and you just displayed that syndrome here, look at how heavily you descended on the dead and the fate that befell the boy!

  • galaxy

    what problems do they have in Edo state that are not existing in other states?