…As Surviving Stowaways Narrate Ordeals
…Say We Were Sprayed With Chemicals By Ophelia Panama Cargo Ship Crew
The Nigeria Immigration Service(NIS), Murtala Muhammed International Airport(MMIA), Lagos Command has received 11Nigerian surviving stowaways, who were rescued by Liberian Immigration Service.
The 11 stowaways were brought back to Nigeria aboard Asky Airlines Flight KP062 at about 4 pm on Thursday, October 6, 2022.
The 11 Nigerians according to sources were part of 13 Nigerians and a Cameroonian who tried to leave the country onboard a cargo vessel the ‘Ophelia Panama’
Of the 13, two died at sea allegedly after being tortured by the crew of the vessel
The 13 Nigerians and one Cameroonian aged between 24-40 were returned to the country escorted by a 9-man team of Liberia Immigration Officers led by Capt. Mark J Weaye.
They are Seyi Popoola, Precious Uwalogho, Ayetimiyi Kelvin, Stephen Junior, Emmanuel Benjamin, Balogun Gbenga, Temiotan Adewale, Igiebor Stephen, Hamza John, Alfred Ese and Ogechi Chika and one Cameroonian
The stowaways were alleged to have sneaked into the basement of Ophelia Panama, a cargo ship at Tin Can Island, Apapa, Lagos at about 12 midnight on Wednesday, September 7, 2022 after transporting themselves on a smaller boat to the ship.
They entered with their personal belongings and some food items, with the hope of somehow making it to any country in Europe.
The ship was said to have set out for Europe in the morning, without the slightest knowledge of the crew of Ophelia Panama .
However, on the fifth day of their trip, after exhausting all the food items they took along and starvation crept in, they decided to present themselves to the ship’s crew in hope of some sympathy and food for survival.
However, on presenting themselves before the crew members of the ship, they were all subjected to severe physical and mental torture.
Thereafter, they were allegedly thrown into the waters in threes by the crew members.
In the process, two Nigerians namely: Frank and Osas, died and the Cameroonian was nowhere to be found while the remaining eleven sustained injuries as a result of the torture.
It was alleged that while they were struggling for survival in the waters, they were rescued by Liberian fishermen, who rescued and treated them and alerted the Liberian Immigration Service.
“We met each other on the ship, we are 14 with one Cameroonian. We moved from Nigerdock entering the vessel through the rudder side. When the ship was moving after four days our food finished and so we wanted help from the crew. Unfortunately, the crew started spraying us chemicals which were burning our skins while demanding us to jump into the high seas.
Comptroller of Immigration Service(CIS) Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) Command, Adeola Adesokan, who received the stowaways handed them over for documentation and profiling and made provisions for their feeding and allowed them to share their horrifying experiences for the world to hear.
“We discovered they are bonafide Nigerians making efforts to run away from the shores of the country. Their story is very harrowing, very pitiable, there was hot water flushing , thrown into the high sea and left to destiny.
“On behalf of the Controller General Isah Jere Idris we want to thank the Commander General for immigration for Liberia for their kind gesture,” she said.