Over 100 Nigerians who were deported from Libya came to The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) on Thursday 29th March 2018 to seek shelter and refuge. They were given the sum of N3.3m ($10,000) alongside a bag of rice each to start their lives afresh after the unspeakable ordeals they encountered during their illegal attempts to travel abroad.

Among those that narrated their despairing suffering was Bettina Duke, 28, who recently graduated from the Federal Polytechnic in Nasarawa State, Nigeria. Brimming with life and a spirited view of its prospects, the entrepreneurial lady seemed the least likely person to fall victim to a desperation-fuelled trap. But the devil has a way of cunningly worming himself in. “I knew the dangers of crossing the sea,” she admitted. However, the lavish picture painted of dazzling Italian streets lined with limitless opportunities corroded common sense. Little did Bettina know the dangers before the sea even eclipsed the dangers on them.

After blithely agreeing to the ‘terms’ involved, Bettina sold the few belongings she had to raise the sum of N600,000 ($1,600) which she was told would pay for the entirety of her trip from Nigeria to Europe. “You will be there in less than a month,” they reassuringly insisted, eager to quash doubt before it even arose. Thus, the journey of nine months “through hell” began.

The first leg of the trip from Agadez, Niger to Sabba, Libya through the tortuous Sahara Desert remains a tear-soaked one that Bettina can never forget. “124 people died in my presence in the desert,” she recalled, shuddering at the memory. “They would just throw the body from the vehicle and keep going.” Not even a shallow grave for the fallen ones, who succumbed to dehydration and starvation.

By the time Bettina’s ten-day desert ordeal ended, she learned the horrifying reality that the money paid to secure her safe passage to Europe had equally ended. “I was sold into slavery upon arrival in Libya,” she continued, wincing at the mere recollection. Her new ‘owner’ proved to have a motive beyond mere money. “He insisted that I sleep with him. When I refused, he took a sharp iron poll and inserted it roughly into my…” Tears would not allow her to proceed. His vile cackle as she lay writhing on the floor in pain still haunts her worst nightmares. “They said I must ‘work’ to regain my freedom,” she continued, each statement punctuated by tears. The ‘work’? Prostitution. Bettina had to sleep with “40 men daily” to satisfy the demands of her captor and his cohorts.

Desperate to find a way out after witnessing the unspeakable depravity in such ‘business’, Bettina lied that she had a hereditary heart problem and could not continue. Beaten by her ‘madam’ for refusal to meet the ‘clients’, she adopted extreme measures. “I stabbed myself so hard that blood began flowing everywhere.” Dizzied and weakened by the loss of blood, Bettina was taken to a local hospital. The end seemed nigh. “After everything, I was kicked back out onto the streets.” She regained ‘freedom’ at the price of almost losing her life. Defiantly determined to proceed, Bettina met a fellow Nigerian man who promised to ‘help’. Unbeknown to her, he was also in the human trafficking business and planned to “sell her” once again into prostitution. Hoping to tame his temper and prevent this plan, she reluctantly agreed to his predatory sexual advances.

Finally, the chance to ‘cross’ the Mediterranean Sea arrived. With over 100 others, Bettina was ‘pushed’ on a make-shift rubber dinghy into the dangerous ocean. Their boat never even reached Italian waters. Sighted by the Libyan coast guard mid-journey, all aboard were roughly returned to their point of origin and promptly imprisoned. At last, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) helped secure her deportation to Nigeria. “I can never advise my worst enemy to undertake such a journey,” the young Nigerian advised her fellow youths. “I thank Prophet T.B. Joshua for giving me this gift to start life again back home.”

Bettina was among the 100 deportees who came to The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) on Thursday 29th March 2018 and received N3.3m alongside a bag of rice each from Prophet T.B. Joshua and Emmanuel TV Partners.

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