Simon Kwabena Nketia has escaped from what he describes as the iron hands of the Libyan security, through whom several people have lost their lives.
Nketia, who sneaked into a Togolese-government sponsored flight with his cousin at dawn a fortnight ago, said as at the time of his escape, several Ghanaians were languishing in Libyan jail under excruciating conditions.
Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Togo, he said, had at least sent two flights each for their nationals in Libyan jail, but there had not been any flight or arrangement to the effect of rescuing Ghanaians, some of whom had spent more than a year in the camp.
Nketia had to struggle to find his way to Accra from Lome with no money on him.
According to him, a senior government official (name withheld) had told them in Libya that Ghana Government’s intervention in rescuing them had delayed because it had sold all planes owned by Ghana Airways, aside other unsavoury comments about the president.
Six hundred and forty-three Ghanaians who attempted to stowaway from Libya to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea are currently rotting away in a Libyan detention camp, with over 2,000 other inmates from various countries.
The Ghanaians, who numbered 649 initially, were reduced to 643 this year following the death of six of them between September last year and September this year.
Even though Vice President John Mahama visited the detainees last year and assured them of government’s intention to airlift them home, that promise is yet to be fulfilled as their conditions deteriorate day in day out.
“If Government does not act swiftly to save our people, most of them will die as a result of the inhumane and undignified treatment they are constantly subjected to,” Nketia says.
“We are just there with no criminal charges preferred against us because even the security personnel always tell us that we have committed no crime; we only tried going to Europe. You are not a criminal; you are just an illegal immigrant.
“They say they are just waiting for our governments to come and take us away, that’s all.”
Despite the Libyan authorities’ open acknowledgement of our innocence, “the prison guards often take some of us out and tie our hands to hanging ropes and whip us with some leather-like ropes.Sometimes, some people have the skins on their backs almost peeled off,” said Nketia, who could no longer hold back the tears he had been trying to control since the interview began.
According to Nketia, who had been in Libya since August 2006, Vice President Mahama visited Libya and appealed for clemency for one gentleman, Daniel Baidoo, who had been jailed for preaching the Christian faith in Libya, an Islamic country.
After securing the release of that Ghanaian, Mr. Mahama reportedly assured the other Ghanaian prisoners that he would personally ensure that they were all brought home safely. But several months after the assurance, the detainees are yet to hear from government.
The preacher-man, Baidoo had been sentenced to 25 years in Jedidah Maximum Security Prison since 2001 for receiving Christian literature in Arabic, a language he neither understood nor read. He was arrested at the Garyan Post Office when he went to collect a parcel said to contain the material.
He was freed on April 25, last year following a plea for clemency by the Vice President.
Under Libyan law, it is criminal to evangelize or try to convert a Libyan to any other religion apart from Islam.
The latest returnee, Nketia, who worked as a mason in Libya until he was arrested and imprisoned on September 7, 2009 said: “Some inmates die of hunger, some of thirst and others of diseases.
“There was a time they put me in an electric chair and I started bleeding through the nose,” said the 38-year-old man from Goka in the Jaman North district of the Brong Ahafo region, who left his wife and two children behind in search of “greener pastures.”
He appealed to government to go to the rescue of the stowaway inmates at Zwala, a harbor city which is about two hours’ drive from Tripoli, the Libyan capital.
It would be recalled that the June 3, 2010 issue of DAILY GUIDE reported the hanging of some Ghanaians in Libya and the imminent hanging of others if government did not act quickly to save them.
“Unless the government of Ghana does something about the situation quickly, seven more Ghanaians on death row in Libya will be hanged tomorrow, Friday June 4, 2010 following the hanging of twenty others on Monday May 31, 2010.”
Information reaching DAILY GUIDE from Libya indicated that prisoners who were facing various charges, including murder were allegedly not given fair trial before death sentences were imposed on them.
Speaking to DAILY GUIDE from his condemned cells in Libya, 26-year-old Kofi Nti, one of the people on death row said in his case, a week after landing in Libya, he was picked up by the security forces and dumped in jail because he was suspected of murdering a Mauritanian.
He said he was not given any chance to defend himself as he was whisked off to a remote prison camp.
Nti claimed he met several Ghanaians on death row at the prison camp, and in conversation with some of them, they all seemed to have been framed up and dumped there awaiting execution.
Kofi Nti is a native of Forikrom near Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region, and married with three children.
Another condemned prisoner, Ayitey Brown, told DAILY GUIDE on his cell phone that he left behind a wife and two children in Accra and decided to make the journey because some of his friends who sojourned in places like Spain returned home to build mansions.
According to Ayitey, he was sleeping with some colleagues in their room when the security forces broke in and arrested them.
They were charged with murdering a Libyan, tried and sentenced to death by hanging.
On a state visit to Italy early this month, Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi called on European authorities to give his country at least five billion euros a year to stop illegal African migration and avoid a “black Europe.”
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