NIMASA, Navy nab 16 illegal migrants on US-bound vessel
Luck at the weekend ran out of 16 illegal migrants onboard a United States- bound vessel, MV Colombia River, which is also a Hong Kong flagged ship.
This is sequel to their arrest and detention by operatives of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA in conjunction with those of the officers and men of the Nigerian Navy.
The 16 unfortunate illegal migrants were stowaways onboard the United States- bound vessel.
Head, Corporate Communications of NIMASA, Hajia Lami Tumaka, who spoke at the weekend, said that the arrests were carried out on Friday November 4, 2016 at the Lagos fairway bouy.
According to her, this was sequel to a distress signal sent to the Regional Search and Rescue Coordination Centre located within the NIMASA operational base, which in turn alerted the Nigerian Navy.
Investigations showed that the crew of the Hong Kong flagged vessel on noticing the stowaways thought that they were under attack by armed pirates, which prompted the alert.
However preliminary investigations show that the I6 persons, who boarded the vessel illegally, were mere intruders who hid in the vessel in order to leave the shores of Nigeria in search of greener pastures in the United States.
It was gathered that following this alert, the Navy had immediately deployed its vessel NNS Karaduwa to the location of the embattled MV Colombia River where 16 stowaways were promptly apprehended and arrested.
One of the 16 stowaways was said to have sustained minor injury on the shoulder as a result of his attempt to escape arrest and was subsequently taken away by the search and rescue team of the agency onboard its vessel NIMASA Benue to the search and rescue base clinic for treatment.
The NIMASA image maker also disclosed that the 15 other stowaways have already been taken away by operatives of the Navy for profiling and subsequent hand over to the appropriate security agencies for further investigation.
She said that plans were being concluded to hand officially hand over the stowaways who include one Liberian national to the Nigerian Immigration Service for further action and possible prosecution.
These arrests are coming at time the nation’s waterways experienced zero incident in the last six months, a development stakeholders described as a great feat, given the increasing level of insecurity on many maritime domain, especially in South East Asia.
Maritime security experts have however warned that there might be increased cases of such stowaways in desperate attempt tp seek greener pasture in Europe, America and other developed countries.
This, according to them might be in response to the increasing danger faced by African migrants in trying to cross the desert and Mediterranean Sea, through which scores including women and children have died.
Nigeria had recently recorded a drastic reduction in incidences of piracy and related activities on the nation’s territorial waters, which has been attributed to the combined efforts of the Nigerian Navy, NIMASA and other stakeholders within the Lagos axis, which led to the zero incidents over a six- month period.