Navy arrests nine Spain-bound stowaways in Lagos

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Nine men who sneaked into a vessel with the intention to follow it to Spain have been arrested by the Nigerian Navy (NN) in Lagos.

They were arrested by operatives of the NNS BEECROFT after they were sighted clinging unto the rudder of the vessel by personnel manning the maritime domain surveillance facility, Falcon Eye.

According to The Nation, the Merchant Vessel was at the Lagos Port in Apapa to discharge cargo and was at the Lagos Anchorage area when the irregular migrants were arrested.

The stowaways were said to have been in the cold at the Anchorage area for five days waiting for the vessel to begin its homeward journey to Spain.

Handing over the suspects to the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Commander NNS BEECROFT, Commodore Kolawole Oguntuga, said they neither considered the risk to their lives nor the image of the country before embarking on the journey.

“They were found on the rudder blade, which is outside of the hull of the ship and is usually submerged. They would have died, considering the extreme exposure to the sea and wind.

The swift and commendable efforts of the patrol team ensured the timely intervention, and also helped to avoid what would have caused potential security threats associated with unauthorized access.

“The stowaways have been disembarked and handed over to the Nigerian Immigration Service for necessary action.

“This incident highlights the crucial role of the Nigerian Navy in maritime security and upholding the rule of law, exemplifying the unwavering dedication under the leadership of Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, Chief of the Naval Staff,” he said.

One of the suspects, Arebo Aseko, a native of Ilaje in Ondo State said he regretted his actions

26-year-old suspect who admitted that he took the dangerous journey from Nigeria to Italy, said it took him about 14 days to travel from Nigeria to Libya and subsequently to Italy.

I was deported from Italy after taking the risk to go on a journey through the desert to Libya and later to Italy. I thought this attempt would have taken me to Spain” he added.

Another suspect who identified himself as Denise Commander, said he paid N4,000 to a fisher man who smuggled him to where the vessel was anchored in Apapa port.

According to him, it was the fisherman who provided him with details of the ship and that it would take 14 days to get to Spain.