Thursday, March 17, 2016 12:39 am
The Commanding Officer NNS BEECROFT, Commodore Abraham Adaji, made the disclosure when he addressed journalists at Apapa, Lagos.
He gave the names of the suspects as Akinwunmi Jeflando, Pope Olu, Jacob James, Samuel Jodge, Ade Samadin, Dan Gogo, James Akinbami, Paul Oguns, Joseph Emmanuel, Stephen Cooper and Jalo Cooper.
Adaji said: “Preliminary investigations revealed that the arrested persons boarded the vessel, CITRON, through the rudder trunk access manhole in a bid to travel with the vessel to Europe.
“The suspects were arrested at about 12. 30 a.m. on March 11 for illegally boarding Merchant Vessel CITRON berthed at Capital Oil Jetty, Apapa, Lagos.
“They were detected and subsequently arrested by our patrol boat,’’ Adaji said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Adaji handed over the suspects to the Nigeria Immigration Service for further investigation and prosecution.
He also said that the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice-Adm. Ikot Ibas, had zero tolerance for all maritime crimes in Nigeria’s waters.
He called on criminally-minded Nigerians and other nationals to seek legitimate employment instead of engaging themselves in illegal activities.
One of the stowaways, Olu said he was not happy with his standard of living which prompted him to attempt to enter Europe illegally.
Another stowaway, Cooper, blamed frustration for his attempt to travel abroad through illegal means.
A representative of the NIS, Mr Lekan Olagunju, a Chief Superintendent, received the stowaways from the Navy.
He said that investigations would continue with a view to ascertaining the claims of their nationalities before they could be prosecuted.
In another development, the Navy also arrested one Mohammed Abubakar, for allegedly impersonating a Seaman Writer in the Nigerian Navy.
While being handed over to the Nigeria Police, Adaji said he was arrested in Lagos.
“’The police will further conduct investigations on the suspect,’’ he said.
It was not the first time the Navy would arrest stowaways.
In June 2014, 12 stowaways — 11 Nigerians and a Ghanaian — were rescued by personnel of the Nigerian Navy ship, NNS Beecroft, Apapa, Lagos, from a Spain-bound vessel, MV African Osprey.