Thirty-nine of the reported 172 Nigerians who were deported from Libya on Friday 11th March 2016 were received by Pastor T.B. Joshua of The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) during his church service on Sunday 13th March.
According to a post on the church’s official Facebook page, the deportees were each given the sum of N100,000 by Joshua, who is well known for his charitable gestures.
Fidelis Onos, who spoke on behalf of the group, said that most of them had been imprisoned for up to one year in Libya after they were suddenly arrested.
The majority were working as bricklayers in the North African country where they had sought ‘greener pastures’.
“We are not here to blame Libya,” Fidelis is quoted as saying. “If Nigeria was okay, we would never have left in the first place. It’s the war in Libya that turned it to what it is today – in a place where there is no government, what can you expect?”
He explained that United Nations officials visited the Nigerians in the Libyan prison and were touched at their plight, promising to arrange their repatriation back to Nigeria.
They were finally able to travel under the voluntary returnee programme organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
Arriving in Lagos with only the clothes they came with, the deportees were provided with a meagre N6,500, leading to resentful outbursts from many at the airport.
“Frustrated, angry and despondent, a group of them decided to seek refuge at The SCOAN, having watched Emmanuel TV in Libya,” the church wrote on their Facebook page.
“Upon learning of their arrival in the church, Prophet T.B. Joshua immediately sent evangelists to provide food, alongside medical aid to some of the most malnourished in their midst,” it continued.
After giving the young men N3.9million ($20,000), many were emotionally moved and shed 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 as he appreciated Joshua for the gift.
“If youths were encouraged like this, we wouldn’t even think of travelling to places like Libya,” another deportee stated, adding that he had never seen such an amount of money in his life.
The group were subsequently provided with toiletries alongside brand new clothing, as they had worn the same set of clothes since their arrival in Nigeria.
“Remember, what you make happen for others, God will make happen for you,” T.B. Joshua stated in the conclusion of the Facebook post.
Ihechukwu Njoku is a freelance Nigerian journalist who writes about the Synagogue Church of All Nations.