A desert explorer, Chief Newton Jibunoh is widely known as the explorer who crossed the world’s largest desert twice has opened up on why Nigerians and African migrants are thrown overboard. Jibunoh drove across the Sahara Desert in 1996 and in his second Sahara expedition; travelled in the reverse direction from Nigeria to Europe. Read excerpts from his interview with Channels TV below…
Why is it that in spite of the dangers, more people still want to go?
I’ll tell you a personal experience; it was during my second expedition. I had all my papers and documentation intact and people had known about me and what I was doing because CNN reported it. I had my car in the hole of the boat to move it across the Mediterranean.
I also paid for a cabin because it was going to be an overnight crossing and it was going to take about 12 hours. Unfortunately and unknown to me, I was going to share the cabin with somebody who was smoking continuously and, at some point, I couldn’t take it anymore; so I had to go to the deck of the boat where there were a lot of migrants – 90% of them were Nigerians because I could hear their discussions in our languages.
I listened to their conversations. Then about half way through the Mediterranean, a security agent walked up to me and asked to see my documentation. He went through the papers and said, “Please go back to your cabin because the boat was going to be raided” and that if that happens, they were going to push everybody on the deck into the Mediterranean.
Did you say ‘push’?
Yes, push! Why? The reason is that any boat carrying illegal migrants would be seized and the boat owners do not want that. Rather than have their boats seized by the Libyan or Moroccan authorities, they would get rid of the illegal migrants, so I went back to my cabin. So, just before we docked at Alicante, Spain, I went to the hole to prepare my vehicle and, alas, all those migrants were gone.
So, I asked the security guy what happened to all the people. He said just before security agents came, they pushed everybody into the sea. That’s how it happens. I told this story before; I’ve given lectures; I’ve written about these things in a book.
It has taken the collapse of Libya to bring this issue to the fore. It’s not just Libya; you have these camps in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The reason is that once they arrest them and they find out that they don’t have the papers to proceed to Europe, they keep them there. And I’m sorry to say, even those people you say you’re bringing back to Nigeria, if you don’t monitor them, they are going to attempt to go back.
The reason is because they have their contract with the cartel and they owe something to the cartel. The cartel gets you the documentation to take you across the Sahara into Europe. And they know everything about your family and they threaten you that if you squeal, they will come after your family. They also force them to swear to voodoo in the shrine. This thing did not just start yesterday or something that we should just look at as an ordinary thing. I have tried for over 30years to effect a change.