The Area B Police Command, Apapa, of the Lagos State Police Command has begun its investigations after three Brazil-bound serial stowaways were arrested by operatives of Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft and handed over to them.
The trio, 17-year-old Okechukwu Obi; 29-year-old Ismaila Olaniyi and 28-year-old Tunji Joseph, had sneaked into the Brazil-bound MT Torm Marins, a merchant vessel, but were discovered by the ship's crew along the Lagos waterways.
The ship had earlier berthed at National Oil Jetty (NOJ), Apapa to discharge petroleum product, when the trio sneaked in through the rudder trunk and accessed the manhole, where they were eventually discovered. The ship had then signalled to operatives of the NNS Beecroft and then handed over the suspects to them for further investigation.
The Commander NNS, Beecroft, Commodore Abraham Adaji, who paraded the three suspects before they were handed over to the police, said investigation revealed that the suspects had boarded the vessel with the intention of traveling to Europe.
He said, "This would be the third time Okechukwo Obi would be arrested by naval operatives from Beecroft. He was arrested in December but the ship he was arrested on had concluded her transaction in Nigeria and was about leaving when he was detected.
"Since there was no evidence to prosecute him with, he was released after severe warning. 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 on board a ship illegally.
"We are appealing to the police to diligently prosecute the suspects as their actions shows that they would do all within their means to board another ship illegally. They may not be so lucky then as the crew would have thrown them overboard for fishes to eat while at sea", he added.
The suspects were later handed over to policemen from Apapa Division, Lagos Command led by one Inspector Afoloyan. In his confessional statement, Okechukwu said he boarded the ship to travel to Brazil with just a bag of pure water, garri and sausage rolls for sustenance. According to him, he learnt from some of his friends at Liverpool in Apapa that most of the ships that come into Nigeria came from Europe.
He said, "I am tired. Anytime you go out to look for job, they will ask you to go and bring surety working with a relevant authority. How will I survive? All my friends that I was arrested with before by the Navy have successfully travelled out to Brazil by hiding in the belly of the ship. They have been calling me to come over. I will not give up. I must go to Brazil."