Eleven young Nigerians escaping the hardship back home have been rescued by officers of the Liberian Immigration Service after they were allegedly tortured and thrown into the sea to die by the crew of a cargo ship named Ophelia Panama.
The victims have been handed over to the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).
The 11 Nigerians and a Cameroonian aged between 24 and 40 years were flown into Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, on Thursday.
The names of the stowaways were given as Seyi Popoola, Precious Uwalogho, Ayetimiyi Kelvin, Stephen Junior, Emmanuel Benjamin, Balogun Gbenga, Temiotan Adewale, Igiebor Stephen, Hamza John, Alfred Ese and Ogechi Chika and one Cameroonian.
Nine Liberian Immigration Officers led by Captain Mark Weaye handed them to the Comptroller Immigration, MMIA, Mrs. Adeola Adesokan.
The stowaways were said to have entered into the basement of a cargo ship named Ophelia Panama, at Tin Can Island Port in Apapa, Lagos on the 7th of September, thinking the ship was heading for Europe.
The stowaways who narrated their encounter said, after some days they ran out of food and in a bid not to starve to death, they presented themselves to the crew of the ship.
According to them, the crew physically tortured them and later threw them into the sea after spraying them with chemicals.
Two of the 13 stowaways were reported to have died in the process while the surviving 11 sustained various degrees of injuries and rescued by Liberian fishermen and handed to their Immigration service.
Three of the stowaways narrated their ordeal.
“When the ship was moving after four days our food finished and so we wanted help from the crew. Unfortunately, the crew started spraying us chemicals which were burning our skins while asking us to jump into the high seas,” one of the rescued victims said.
While receiving the stowaways, the Comptroller Immigration Service, MMIA, Lagos, commended the Liberian government and officers of the Liberian Immigration service for rescuing them, describing the act as noble.
She said after proper profiling, they would be released to the appropriate authorities.
“Their story is very harrowing, very pitiable, there was hot water flushing , thrown into the high sea and left to destiny. On behalf of the Comptroller-General, Isah Jere Idris, we want to thank the Commander General of Immigration for Liberia for their kind gesture.”