The Gambia, on Tuesday, returned nine Nigerian stowaways who illegally boarded a ship out of the country at the Tin-Can Island Port, Lagos.
The stowaways, who were returned to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos aboard an Asky flight via Lome, Togo, were received by of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
The stowaways, aged 21 to 30, said they boarded the ship at the Tin-Can Island Port to escape to Europe. They were, however, spotted by the captain, who quickly alerted security agencies of the neighbouring country.
It was learnt that in a bid to escape arrest, the stowaways jumped into the sea, with two unable to swim, but were rescued.
Comptroller of Immigration at the airport, Adesola Adesokan, confirmed the repatriation, though lamented the incessant cases of stowaway among Nigerians.
“The security officers were able to quickly rescue them, put them in the boat and took them to a hotel where they were given food in The Gambia. But they were very resistant and refused to return to Nigeria. In fact, they were still demanding money from the immigration service before they could return to Nigeria.
“They were eventually taken to the Nigeria High Commission in The Gambia, which persuaded them and issued them emergency travel documents to enable them be brought back to Nigeria through the MMIA,” she said.
Adesokan appealed to such irregular travellers to desist from it and follow the right channel of travels to any country of their choice.
“We need to change our mentality. When they get there illegally, the first thing is they will begin to hide and when they are caught, they will be deported. Even when they are not caught, they go there to do odd jobs that they cannot be proud of showing to their friends and family members,” she said.
One of the stowaways, Abdul Yakubu, said that he was selling noodles and fried eggs on Lagos Island when a friend offered him the opportunity to stowaway on board a ship at the cost of N70,000.
Another stowaway, Daniel Vincent, said, “They told us we would be in Europe within five or six days. We didn’t carry any food or water with us when we boarded the ship at Tin Can Port in Lagos. It was a very regrettable experience I would not encourage even my enemies to embark upon.”
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