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Failed Europe trip: 9 stowaways captured in Gambia, repatriated to Lagos

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos Command, on Tuesday, received nine Nigerians who attempted to stow away to Europe through…

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos Command, on Tuesday, received nine Nigerians who attempted to stow away to Europe through The Gambia.

The stowaways claimed they were lured into the act by some of their friends who were lucky to make it to Europe through the same path.

The stowaways were received by the Comptroller, NIS, MMIA Command, Adesola Adesokan, who advised Nigerians, especially the youths against irregular travels to Europe.

Sources said the young Nigerian adults aged between 21 and 30, attempted to travel to Europe through The Gambia Sea, but they were spotted by the ship’s captain who immediately alerted the security agencies of that country.

It was learned that in a bid to escape arrest, the stowaways jumped into the high sea but they were rescued from drowning and subsequently taken to the Nigeria High Commission in The Gambia.

The High Commission immediately processed emergency travel documents for them to be repatriated to Nigeria, despite their reluctance to return to the country.

The stowaways were brought back to Nigeria through Asky Airlines Lome, Togo.

The NIS boss, in an interview with journalists yesterday decried the incessant stowaway incidents among the youths.

She explained that the nine stowaways were handed over to the MMIA Command by officials of the Gambian immigration service.

She said: “About nine Nigerians were sent back by The Gambian immigration officers for attempted stowaway in the high sea and two of them almost lost their lives in the process because when they were discovered, they attempted to escape and jumped into the high sea. Unfortunately for them, two of them could not swim.

“The captain of the ship had to get in touch with the country that is within the neighbourhood for the rescue mission. The security officers were able to quickly rescue them, put them in the boat, and take them to a hotel where they were given food.

“But they were very resistant and refused to return to Nigeria. They were still demanding money from the immigration service there before they could return to Nigeria. They were eventually taken to the Nigeria High Commission in The Gambia, which persuaded them and issued them emergency travel documents for them to be able to be brought back to Nigeria through the MMIA.”

In his statement, Abdul Yakubu, one of the stowaways, alleged that he was selling noodles and dried eggs on Lagos Island before he was cajoled to embark on the trip.

He alleged that he lost N70,000, which he paid to the man who boarded him on the ship.

Daniel Vincent, another stowaway, said he thought he would have been in Europe after three days of the trip.

He said, “They told us we would be in Europe within five or six days. We didn’t carry any food or water with us when we boarded the ship at Tin Can Port in Lagos. It was a very regrettable experience I would not encourage even my enemies to embark upon,” he said.

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