…….Human skeletons,documents and passports litter Sahara Desert
……Some Travel Agents are liars
……I spent 41days in S/Desert
…… 350 passengers sandwiched in a Jeep
……Many died on the road
…….. I became Born Again
Pastor Oluwadayisi Olabode who traveled to Europe by road through Sahara Desert gives a graphic description of his experience . He spoke with Taiwo Abiodun
PART 1 VIDEO
WHY I WAS DESPERATE
As the man sat on the chair that day during this interview, he was nervous as if he has not been set free from the Sahara Desert. He started “My name is Oluwadayisi Olabode . I am 47 years old and I am married with children .I am now a Pastor and a Counselor .During the President Olusegun Obasanjo regime, precisely in the month of November , I planned to travel to Europe by road .I was convinced that it was easy to go by road and would spend between one and two months on the road. I had a friend then called Emeka who introduced me to a Travel Agent about this trip , and I told him I had been to Spain and London but deported as all my aim was to get out of Nigeria for greener pasture”. .
PREPARATION FOR THE JOURNEY
According to Olabode , he kept the secret of his journey to himself and didn’t tell anybody , he said ” I went to ‘Oluwole’ in Lagos Island where fake documents were produced and I obtained a passport of South Africa and affixed my photograph passport.
”As a man of God and from my own personal experience , traveling abroad via wuruwuru is not the best because of my ugly experience, it is a terrible thing and unforgettable journey . I have experienced the worst. I don’t pray for my enemy to go through the pains I went through ”. He continued ”you see these Travel Agents are terrible , they deceive clients and with their sugarcoated mouths and the money they would be paid would lie to their clients that it is one or two months’ journey. They are full of lies, deceits and tricks.They know many are desperate to leave Nigeria that is why many fell for them and become victims”, he said ,shaking his head.
CHANGE OF NAMES
”To start with I went to ‘Oluwole’ in Lagos Island where fake documents were being processed and my Travel Agent provided the details for my international passport.However, he advised me not to obtain Nigerian passport for it would not be easy to pass through as foreigners make things difficult for Nigerians and would not honour it. He suggested a Ghanaian or South African passport and I obeyed him. I obtained the South African passport and claimed the State of Johannesburg. I changed my name overnight and from the Yoruba name I bear to foreign name and was bearing John Martins which was a lie . For my mother’s name I wrote Celine Dion .For processing my International passport I paid between 11,000 to 12,000 naira to the Agent . We were told we would spend between two and three months on the road to Europe.
“We were told to be ready to travel through the Sahara Desert from Nigeria to Niger to Morocco and to Libya where we would enter Europe by Boat. I left the Nigerian border with 185,000naira and I went along with some women who were mostly from Edo State were co-travelers . We went through Kano and from there to Niger. I was advised to change my Nigerian money into foreign currencies at the border because it would get to a stage when I would not be able to spend my Nigerian currency . Part of the money was changed to dollar and the rest to CFA because CFA is their currency in Niger . As I said we passed through Kano and went to Zinda , from Zinda to Agadez in Northern Niger to … was still bearable. We were like locust and being led like cows all in the name of going to Europe.Later we were led into a vehicle with the logo of Malboro cigarette on it , it is the vehicle they used to ferry us to Agadez .
EMEKA BACKED OUT
Oluwadayisi said if he had known he would have backed out from traveling for his friend who introduced him to the Travel Agent eventually backed out as he could not continue with the journey . He said ” Ah, the guy Emeka went back ,he said he could not continue the journey any longer. I would have done same thing but I had had it in mind that I must travel out that was why I didn’t turn back”.
NO MAN’S LAND
”There was a place they called ”No Man’s Land” because this is where you meet wicked and heartless people . Here they stripped us naked and took our money .These strong men beat us and searched our bags,bodies and removed our money ,no matter where you keep the money for they have known all parts of the body money is being kept., Our water were in kegs , some were with 10, 8, 5 litres. From Agadez it was terrible. When it got to a point I missed the Teza cosa Jeep , in this jeep we were about 350 passengers, we sat on one another , some would be under. Some Chadians were called “Desert Cruisers” Chadians were good drivers and they knew the routes in the desert very well, it is like when one is on water , there is no direction, we paid them .We stopped along the way and covered ourselves with blanket, no trees to protect us from the sun or cold .
TROUBLE IN SAHARA DESERT
Shedding tears and shivering while narrating his ugly and nasty experience , Olabode said ” I am developing goose pimples as I am narrating this story . We faced many hurdles on the way ; there were accidents, human skeletons , human bones littered everywhere ,decomposed and decomposing human bodies were seen on the road . I believed many died on the way and some wild animals also killed some of the Immigrants too. We saw International passports of many nationalities that were scattered allover the place and that is evidence that the travelers never reached their destinations. Imagine the parents and relatives back home thought their children or wards had traveled out expecting goodies and calls from them not knowing they were being tortured and unsafe somewhere!. We were ‘armed’ with only gaari , kulikuli and litres of kegs of water .There was no place to cook in the Desert for there are no trees , no stove, it’s pure desert , no roofing and we had only our blankets to cover our bodies.
” Again, we met the bad guys called ‘Mafia’ who were along the way. They stripped us naked us and after beating us mercilessly they removed our hidden dollars and other currencies from our anus, from women’s private parts, from our shirt’s collar and from our hidden parts of our bodiess. They knew all the areas travelers used to keep money” .
WE DRANK WOMEN’S URINE AND BLOOD
He continued ” When we exhausted the water each of us carried along and were thirsty and there was no water to drink we would buy the women’s urine for five dollars while the strong among us would kill the weaker ones and drink their blood .The strong ones among us would dismember those who were weak and who fell along the road and couldn’t continue the journey and drink their blood. There was no way to quench our thirst. Don’t blame them for they did not kill out of wickedness but they have to drink blood in place of water to quench their thirst .While in the Sahara Desert we were seeing the street lights of Libya afar off thinking it was nearer and closer , it’s like looking at Abuja’s street lights from Lagos , yet far!..I told God that if He rescued and saved me I would worship Him for the rest of my life . Now the God’s work He called me to do of which I rejected was being done compulsorily here in the wilderness.I prayed and fasted by force”, he said as he was sweating profusely.
SEX IN DESERT?
When asked whether they had sex on the way but the man frowned,looked at this reporter and said ” Sex?what are you talking about?. We were looking for how to survive. Sex? No, Nigerians didn’t do that only the Nigeriens and Libyans officials maltreated our girls and had sex with them and collected our valuables ”
ALONE IN THE DESERT
The man of God said he contemplated suicide but God didn’t allow it to happen , he gave the reason why .” It was in this desert that I got my calling , it all happened like this ; when our vehicle stopped in the Desert and the passengers alighted to obey the call of nature and ease themselves, I too went to defecate somewhere but before I came back the vehicle and the passengers had all gone leaving me behind . I shouted but nobody heard me , not even an echo. I was left alone. I became lonely”.
He continued ”With my naked eyes I saw strange things that are still giving me nightmares till this day. In the desert I was the only one left ,I did not bath for months, no water . I would swallow close up toothpaste I had with me and mixed it with my saliva then swallowed it like water in place of water for my throat was dry. While in the desert you don’t know the time and date while the sun was just up there shining You don’t know the day of the month whether it is Wednesday or Monday. I later got to know that I had spent 41 days in that desert . As I was walking on the sand the air was blowing me about . I had no energy and my clothes were heavy on me.I was left with my underwear.I saw human carcasses on the ground. I saw wild animals crossing both day and night. My clothes were heavy on me ,oh my God it was terrible. The sun and moon were up there burning seriously that is why nothing can grow there in the desert. Here was where I met God.
SOLDIERS RESCUED ME
” When the Libyan soldiers who were on patrol saw me they didn’t believe I was still living . No clothes on me. I had become a skeleton, for my clothes had torn and I had only pant on me and I was like a scarecrow. These soldiers came down and prayed on the sand , scooped it and threw it on me to be sure if I was not harmless or a Spirit or something else .Later they carried me into their vehicle. They gave me food and water but l could neither eat nor drink. I was like a patient who had just been operated on. They took me away and that was the period when the Libyan soldiers were injecting the HIV /AIDS victims with lethal injection to death when HIV/AIDS was just discovered in their country and believed Nigerians were the ones bringing it into their country so they were going about with the lethal injection to kill their victims especially immigrants for they didn’t want to see the Blacks. These soldiers thought of all these yet with God’s mercy they spared me and put me in their patrol van and rescued me from here. I was later told I had spent 41days in the Sahara Desert. From here I was taken to their deportation camp in Libya.
The man continued his story ” When I was dropped at the deportation Camp I met thousands of people from different nations who were also Immigrants going to Spain. From here I started learning their language .They said Tiara is a vehicle moving on the ground and Siara is an aircraft or aeroplane flying in the sky. I became their spokesman and interpreter . I used to assist them to remove dead inmates outside .A lot of people died in the deportation camp. Later they left us in the town in Libya , from there I went to Tripoli and went to pay to cross to Malta by water. But in Tripoli I spent two to three months , yes there was food in Tripoli but that was not what I was there for . I worked for sometime . They seized my 100 dollar bill. I called my brother in the USA via Yahoo messenger and told him I was in Libya , he was surprised and was not happy for going to Libya. I asked him to send 700 dollars to me . I worked in a cyber cafe and when they found out that I could speak little of their language they loved me and I worked for sometime there .From Libya I decided to take a boat to Malta…
To be continued next week
Out of 670 of us in boat only 65 landed Malta…..etc