Sixteen stowaways, 15 of them Nigerians and one a Liberian, have been arrested by the Search and Rescue personnel of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The stowaways were apprehended, in conjunction with officers and men of the Nigerian Navy. on a United States bound cargo vessel, MV Columbia River.
The arrest which was effected on Friday November 4, at the Lagos fairway buoy was sequel to a distress signal sent to the Regional Search and Rescue Coordination Centre based in NIMASA which in turn alerted the Nigerian Navy.
The Navy immediately sent its vessel NNS Karaduwa to the location of MV Columbia River where 16 stowaways were apprehended and one of them sustained an injury on the shoulder while attempting to escape arrest.
The injured stowaway was immediately taken away by the NIMASA Search and Rescue team on its vessel NIMASA Benue to the Agency’s Search and Rescue Base Clinic for treatment while the others were taken away by the Navy for profiling and subsequent hand over to the Security Agencies for further investigation.
The crew of the Hong Kong flagged vessel had originally thought that they were under attack by armed pirates but preliminary investigation showed that the persons on board the vessel were only intruders who hid in the vessel to leave the shores of Nigeria in search of greener pastures in the US.
The stowaways who included one Liberian national are in custody and will be handed over to the Nigerian Immigration Service for further action.
Piracy and related activities have drastically reduced in Nigerian waters as a result of the combined efforts of the Nigerian Navy, NIMASA and other stakeholders with Lagos accounting for zero incident in the last six months.