Nine Nigerian youths and a national of Niger Republic who attempted to emigrate to Europe through boats were arrested after they were caught by the Nigeria Immigration Service.
The suspects were reported to have been assisted by local fishermen who took them on local boats to the bigger ships.
Modupe Anyalechi, the Comptroller, Nigeria Immigration Service, Lagos Seaports and Marine Command, stated 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, were caught on Monday by naval officers on board of MV MAERSK CHANNIA by some naval officers, they were handed over to the NIS.
Most of the vessels only traversed waterways of West African countries and the Gulf of Guinea of which the suspects were unaware.
“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.
He said, “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.
He said, “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 advised youths to stay in the country, saying there were many opportunities they could explore to become responsible members of society.