The hope of ten Nigerian youths and a national of Niger Republic for greener pastures in Europe through vessels was dashed after they were arrested by the Nigeria Immigration Service. One of the stowaway’s said he would take any risk to leave Nigeria.
The suspects were said to have been assisted into the vessels by some fishermen who paddled them on local boats before getting them aboard the ships.
The Comptroller, Nigeria Immigration Service, Lagos Seaports and Marine Command, Modupe Anyalechi, said five of the suspects were discovered on Sunday inside the rudder truck of MV MSC PAOLA by some immigration officers who rummaged the vessel at fairway buoy, around six nautical miles to finger jetty, Apapa Port.
The other five, according to her, were caught on Monday on board of MV MAERSK CHANNIA by some naval officers, who handed them over to the NIS.
She said the suspects were, however, unaware that most of the vessels only plied waterways of West African countries and the Gulf of Guinea.
“Our efforts have made it almost impossible for stowaways to access vessels from the quayside; hence, they now resort to using canoes with the assistance of fishermen, to get into vessels through the propellers when the vessels are gradually sailing to the high sea along the channel. This was confirmed in the confession of the stowaways.
“Their reason for this act, as they claimed, was in search of greener pastures in Europe and the western world. Unknown to them, however, is the fact that some of these vessels are Coastal, whose activities are limited to West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea,” she said.
Anyalechi identified the suspects as Orire Popoola, Kelvin Wessey, Erukudami Moses, Odiyeye Abiye, Agba Victor, Odogwu Michael, Kelly Onikan, Pope Ekele, Asumah Ukpere and Wessem Nasuru.
Twenty-eight-year-old Popoola said all the stowaways got on the vessels on their own, adding that they only met after they were arrested.
The Ondo State indigene said they all thought the vessels were Europe-bound.He said he was ready to take any risk to leave the country.
“I will take any risk to find my way out of Nigeria. I have no job. I believe that if I can follow a ship to Europe, I can be anything I want to be. I thought the ship was going to Holland or any other part of Europe,” he added.
Wessey, 24, who claimed to be a Lagos State indigene, said he wanted to leave the country to play for a football club in Europe.