• Sunday, January 15, 2006 - By Philip Nwosu & Patricia Onyekwere
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--They thought they’d made a getaway to greener pasture abroad. Now, Navy ends daydream of 14 stowaways

Fourteen young men, who live under the illusion that the streets of Europe are paved with gold, have been arrested by the Navy authorities.

They were nabbed by the Nigerian Navy while illegally attempting to leave the country’s seaport on board a merchant vessel sailing to the Netherlands.

According to the Navy, the men who are between the ages of 20 and 30 were caught on board MV Fortres vessel which had earlier off-loaded her cargo at the Tin Can Port, in Apapa early in the year and was returning to Europe.

The names of the 14 stowaways were given as Christopher Nnaka, Friday Nwaenugu, Jekwu Igboanugo, Elvis Adowa, George Eze, Henry Hawaba, Omotayo Oyintola, Segun Ojulari and Obinna Odare. Others are Abiodun Ademola, Tochukwu Eze, Vincent B, Ifeanyi O and Adeyeye O.

According to the Commanding Officer, NNS Beecroft, Captain Hassan Usman, the men had hid themselves inside the vessel with the intention of getting to Holland by false means, but were caught red-handed just as the ship was setting sail.
He told Sunday Sun that the ship crew had alerted the Nigerian Navy when they discovered mid-sea that strange persons were on board the vessel.

He said: “When the ship crew alerted us, we immediately deployed our men to the site and there we were able to arrest 14 young men who sneaked into the ship in the bid to get off in Holland. It is not unusual, this is not the first time we are uncovering stowaways, but the number of them this time is rather high. We have arrested some before within the range of two, three or four, at most five.

“The call we got was that they were there to attack the ship, but when we got there, we discovered that they were stowaways, young men who want to go abroad in search of greener pasture.

They just watch out for foreign ships, and when the find one, they sneak into them to whichever country the ship is headed. It is easier for them because most of them are casual workers on board these ships that arrive Nigeria to discharge her cargo. As it is customary for the vessels to employ the services of casual workers, that makes it easier for them to know the destination of the ship and where to hide because they had studied the environment and the date of departure.”

One of them, Segun Ojulari, was not penitent of his conduct. Rather, he confessed that it was not his first time of attempting to travel abroad illegally.

“I have traveled to Brazil like this before but I was deported because I could not get my papers. I will keep trying and I know that one day I will succeed. I don’t have money to process my papers to travel abroad, and I want to make a living for my self and my family, but am tied of working as a casual labourer,” he said.

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