They had left families, friends and their country with a singular purpose of eking out better living opportunities for themselves. They are Nigerian returnees; they wanted an economy that works, a government that works, the welfare of its citizens when Nigeria could not give them that, they decided to take the next available train of opportunism.
Their handlers had promised them uncommon success and the fulfilment of beautiful dreams. They therefore sold lands, borrowed money just to be on the flight to Europe. They never knew it would be a tortuous path to hell.
Sadly, many of them died on the way as they were trafficked along variously dangerous paths across parts of North Africa. Many ended in Libya, others in Morocco. Many of them died; those who survived were sold by slave merchants. Some were lucky to have had the privilege to be deported back home to Nigeria.
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They, therefore, came back in their hundreds sharing a common label: dejected, rejected, dashed hopes, broken dreams. They had no place to go, no loving hand to lean on, no support and therefore no courage to begin again. As their planes landed in Nigeria, many of these deportees made their way to the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in Lagos, believing that the founder and senior cleric of the
church, Prophet T.B. Joshua would provide the succour that they needed.
Remarkably, Prophet Joshua has not stopped providing help to them, giving them a new lease on life. They have not stopped coming in their large numbers and the man of God has not stopped telling them
that “the best is yet to come.”
In May 2017, an aircraft carrying over 250 Nigerian deportees who arrived from Libya night arrived Nigeria aboard a chartered Airbus A330-200 with registration mark 5A-LAT operated by Libya Airlines
landed about 9:43pm at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
The voluntary returnees included four children and one infant. They were made up of 233 males, 25 females. Their return was made possible by the International Organisation for Migration, IOM, and the Nigerian embassy in Libya.
The deportees in the early hours of Friday, May 12, stormed The Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in Lagos, looking very unkempt, malnourished and weak. They came in search of refuge. After
learning of their impromptu arrival, Prophet T.B. Joshua and the Emmanuel TV Team immediately provided foodstuff and financial support.
Many of them were frail and unkempt due to the hardship they had endured. Moved by compassion, Prophet T.B. Joshua gave each of them a cash gift totalling ₦7 million alongside two bags of rice and Morning Water to start their lives afresh.
In October, 2016, a group of Nigerian deportees from Libya have revealed harrowing details of their thwarted efforts to illegally travel to Europe.
Fifty-two of the 154 Nigerian deportees from Libya shared their sordid experiences publicly at the church in Lagos State on Sunday 16th October where they had come to seek refuge.
At the church service, N10, 000, 000 ($33,000USD) was given out to the group on behalf of Emmanuel TV Partners, with each of the deportees receiving N150, 000 ($500USD) alongside two bags of rice to “start their lives afresh”.
Prophet T.B. Joshua used the opportunity to advise youth. “It is where God wants you to make it that you will make it, not where you want to make it or where you admire,” he said.
He also advised people not to be deceived by the seemingly ‘flashy lifestyles’ of many who will be returning to their homeland during the festive season. “A decorated slave is not only a slave but a big fool.
Be careful – appearance out there is deceptive. Warn your children!”
Equally on Sunday 13th March 2016, a group of 39 Nigerians who had been deported from Libya came to the church in search of help. They were angry, frustrated and some of them contemplated suicide. Upon learning of their arrival in the church, Prophet T.B. Joshua immediately sent evangelists to provide food, alongside medical aid to the most malnourished in their midst.
He then prayed for each of the deportees before giving the sum of N100, 000 to all of them, totalling N3.9million ($20,000). Clearly moved, the young Nigerians burst out in song, some even shedding
tears. “If not for a man like T.B. Joshua, most of us would have ended up going into armed robbery, kidnapping or even joining a group like Boko Haram,” said Godspower Chibuike, one of the deportees.
On August 30, 2018, 180 people, including some Nigerian migrants in a viral video recorded in a Libyan prison, returned safely to Nigeria.
At least 80 of the deportees paid a visit to the church the next day. There, they received N2.4 million from the Prophet Joshua and Emmanuel TV Partners.
Seven of the migrants attended the Sunday service on September 2, 2018, where they shared their horrifying experiences in Libya. Reacting to their stories, Prophet Joshua said, “Dear Africans, we should not let other fellow Africans feel unwelcome to our countries.
Africa has neglected her youths. Africa has abandoned the youths. Africa has failed to make provision for the youths, whereas tomorrow’s Africa is the youths. When I think about the future of Africa, I have
sleepless nights. Everything looks gloomy, frustrating, hopeless, dark, darksome, shadowy, shaded, dull, sunless and un-illuminated.”
Afterward, they received N1 million from Prophet T.B Joshua and the Emmanuel TV partners.
The need to reach a troubled world with the message of hope in the love of Jesus Christ has been the burning desire of Prophet Joshua.
Giving hope to the teeming youths of Nigerian extraction and even beyond Africa should be one of the cardinal goals of religious organisations and governments. Prophet Joshua understands this and
therefore has made it part of his lifelong obligation.
Oyetimi writes via email@example.com
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