A phenomenological research method was adopted utilising an instrumental case study research design, which targeted the population of Nigerian youth returnees from Libya. Twenty (20) returnees from Libya constituted the sample population in Benin City in Edo and Lagos States. These states were chosen for two reasons. Firstly, they were states that received a huge number of returnees from Libya and secondly, they were states I could easily access within the short period of time available for data collection.
The respondents were within the age bracket of 27-35 years and hail from states such as Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Delta and Edo. Out of the eight respondents interviewed in Lagos, six (6) were males while two (2) were females. In terms of educational qualification, five (5) were university graduates, one (1) a National Diploma Holder and two (2) university drop outs. In Benin City, out of the twelve (12) interviewed, eight (8) were males, and four (4) were females. According to their academic qualification, two (2) were University graduates, one (1) a Higher National Diploma holder, four (4) were holders of National Diploma (ND), two (2) were university drop outs and three (3) were School Leaving Certificate holders. According to the returnees, their journeys were facilitated by friends and family members who linked them up with migrant smugglers. For all of them, their journeys to Libya kicked off from Kano State in Nigeria and it lasted between 8-15 days. This shows that this is an established route through which irregular migration takes place.
The face-to-face structured interviews were conducted in December 2019 and each lasted up to an hour. Given the fact that deportation is considered a shameful experience in southwest Nigeria, returnees are reluctant to share their stories. To address this issue, snowball sampling was employed in Lagos State, with the participants assured of confidentiality and anonymity. In Edo State, I worked directly with a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Patriotic Citizens Initiative (PCI), whose founder is a returnee who aims to rehabilitate others in the same situation. The interviews with the participants focused on the main reasons that prompted them to migrate and their experiences in the Sahara, in Libya, and during their various attempts to cross the Mediterranean. The participants granted informed consent and they were assured of their right to withdraw from the study at any point. Useful secondary sources of data included scholarly articles and books, and a documentary by Ross Kemp that provides first-hand accounts of the plight of failed migrants trapped in Libya. The data were thematically analysed. Pseudonyms were assigned to the participants and their statements are paraphrased for clarity and cohesion.