Navy nabs three stowaways in Lagos

Three Nigerians who boarded a Europe-bound merchant ship have been arrested by operatives of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT.

The suspects, Okechukwu Obi, 17; Joseph Tunji, 29, and Ismaila Olaniyi, 28, who were caught onboard MT TORM MARINS were Thursday handed over to the police for prosecution.

They were said to have boarded the vessel through the rudder trunk and accessed the manhole while the ship berthed at the National Oil Jetty (NOJ), Apapa, to discharge petroleum product.

Handing over the suspects to the police, Commander, NNS BEECROFT, Commodore Abraham Adaji said that investigation revealed that the suspects illegally boarded the vessel, with intent to travel abroad.

He said they were discovered by the crew while the vessel was carrying out routine maintenance.

Adaji who decried the spate of Nigerians travelling abroad illegally, noted that the suspects might have been thrown overboard if the vessel had left Nigerian waters.

He warned Nigerians to desist from the act, noting that it was the third time Obi has been arrested for the same offence.

Adaji said: “This would be the third time Okechukwo Obi would be arrested by naval operatives from BEECROFT. He was arrested in December but because the ship he illegally boarded had concluded her transaction in Nigeria and was about leaving, there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prosecute him and so, he was warned and released.

“Surprisingly, two weeks after that incident he was arrested again, during our investigation, it was discovered that this would be the third time he has been arrested while trying to travel onboard a ship illegally.

“We are appealing to the Police to diligently prosecute the suspects as their actions show that they would do all within their means to board another ship illegally.

“They may not be so lucky next time as the ship’s crew might throw them overboard for fishes to eat while at sea,” he said.

But the suspects seemed undeterred in their quest to travel as they said that they must leave Nigeria.

Obi who was paraded last year by the Navy and handed over to the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) alongside seven others said he would rather die trying than continue to suffer in Nigeria.

“If God says I should die, then I die. All those people that were arrested with me last year have all travelled. All of them are in Brazil and they are always calling me.

“I must make it because I am tired of this life. Anytime you go out to look for job, they will ask you to go and bring surety. Where will I get surety? I only have my grandmother who is in the village in Imo State.

“I went to learn how to repair generator and I was told to bring surety. I don’t have a house. I sleep inside bus where I work as conductor and get N500 or N700 daily. How will I survive?

“I have made up my mind that I must go to Brazil like my friends. We bought two bags of pure water, gala and garri that was supposes to last us 20 days on the journey. But we have finished them here. I will keep trying until I succeed,” he said.

Similarly, Olaniyi who claimed his father was a retired soldier said he was fed up with the hardship in Nigeria, adding that police usually clamped down on them because they have nothing doing.

“I used to work as a labourer at Ogombo in Ajah, but now, there is no job. I am from Ondo state. I am a street boy, but I am not a criminal. And it is because I do not want to become a criminal that I want to go out there and hustle,” he said.

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