Boniface Douglas, the Ghanaian who was arrested in Lagos together with 11 Nigerians for sneaking into Europe aboard a Spain-bound vessel, says that was his sixth futile attempt to leave Ghana illegally.
On one occasion, he succeeded in reaching Brazil but was deported almost immediately because he could not produce needed documents covering his arrival in the country.
Douglas and his accomplices who were casual workers on the MV African Osprey vessel, were arrested over the weekend by personnel of the Nigerian Navy ship, NNS Beecroft, Apapa, Lagos.
He told Nigerian journalists that, they almost suffocated inside the cabin they hid. He said had the crew members delayed in opening the cabin where they hid, they would have died without reaching their dream destination.
Hear him: “I work as a labourer in the ship. We all planned it without the knowledge of the crew members. We sneaked into the ship on a Sunday because we were aware that the ship would be sailing next day to Spain.
‘We decided to hide in one of the unused cabins. We entered from Apapa. I went with chin-chin, three bags of pure water and gari, cassava flakes which I sneaked into the ship without the knowledge of the cabin crew.
‘I have similar attempt six times. The first was to Brazil but I was deported on reaching there. The second was Senegal, in 2002, others are Santos, Conakry, Abidjan and Togo. I was deported because I was without the necessary documents.
Another colleague, Daniel Timothy, 23, on his part said : ‘We almost suffocated. If the crew members had delayed in opening the cabin we hid in, we would have been dead by now.
‘While inside, we were praying to get to the country safe and also planned how to sneak out of the ship at night. But three days into the journey, we started perceiving a foul odour. We endured for some time.
‘At a point, we could not breathe any longer. I suggested we started banging the door to attract the crew members in order to go back to our country alive rather than dying without reaching our destination.
‘Others suggested we should hold on. When I couldn’t bear it, I started banging on the cabin door because we could not open it from inside. Others joined me and in the process, the crew members came and opened the cabin.
That was my third attempt and I promise never to leave the country through such means again.’
I excreted inside polythene bags
For 24-year-old Agburum, who claimed that was his first attempt , he said: ‘I was tempted to embark on the journey because some of my friends succeeded through same means.
‘On the night we sneaked in, I had a running stomach. I took several polythene bags because I was told that we would not come out once we have entered. I excreted all though the night inside polythene bags, as the nauseating feeling aggravated my condition. I almost died. I only managed to eat eight wraps of sausage rolls out of the 15 I went with. I do not intend to attempt it again because it was not a pleasant experience.’
Other suspects identified are: Mustapha Ayinla, Bernard Amadi, Azinabor Gideon, Isaac Delight, Justice Agburum, Anthony Oladipupo, Emma Okon, Idowu Adeyemi, Philip Israel and Holly Osatwie.
They all blamed their action on unemployment in their respective countries.
They have since been handed over to personnel of the Nigeria Immigration Service.
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