A Nigerian stowaway has stated that he would do anything to travel out of the country. This is coming after operatives of the Nigeria Immigration service arrested nine Nigerian youths and a national of Niger Republic on board two Europe-bound vessels.
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, not aware that the vessels are not en-route Europe but sailing across the waters of West Africa.
“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.
One of the stowaways, Popoola said all the suspects caught got on the vessels individually and that they only met after they had been 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.
“I have been suffering for many years to be somebody in life, but no way. I am a footballer; but I don’t have any connection. I want to play for big clubs in Europe. I felt if taking this risk would make me achieve my dream, then so be it. I know I could have died while doing this. I did it on purpose.
“I lost my mother in October 2017. I have no relative or helper. I would rather take the risk of going abroad through this means than rob or steal.”
An artiste, Odogun, said he had been performing at different shows without making headway in life, adding that he thought the risk would change his life for the better.
“I do not hate my country and I am not trying to run away. I just needed a place where I can find help. My mother died last two months and my father is crippled. I am the first child of my father and my only brother is in the village,” he added.
Ukpere, 24, said he had been frustrated by joblessness, adding that his attempts at joining the NIS were futile due to lack of funds.
“The life I am living in Nigeria is meaningless. I have looked for jobs in many companies in Lagos without getting any. When I got the recruitment form to join Immigration, I could not process it because I didn’t have money and my parents are dead. I know that if I go abroad, I will find a better life for myself than the one I am living here.”
Anyalechi however admonished Nigerian youth to stay in the country saying there are a lot of opportunities they could tap from.