16 stowaways on a US-bound vessel, “MV Colombia River’’ have been apprehended by the Navy and NIMASA.

The arrest was made by the Search and Rescue personnel of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy.

According to the Head, Corporate Communications Team of NIMASA, Hajia Lami Tumaka, the arrest was carried out on Friday Nov. 4, 2016, at the Lagos Fairway Bouy.

She said the arrest was sequel to a distress signal sent to the Regional Search and Rescue Coordination Centre based in NIMASA, Tumaka said the centre, in turn, alerted the Nigerian Navy.

“The Navy immediately sent its vessel `NNS Karaduwa’ to the location of `MV Colombia 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.

“The others were taken away by the Navy for profiling and subsequent hand over to the security agencies for further investigation,’’ the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes her as saying.

Tumaka said the crew of the Hong Kong flagged vessel, had originally thought that they were under attack by armed pirates.

According to her, preliminary investigation showed that the persons on board the vessel were only intruders who hid in the vessel to leave Nigeria in search of greener pastures in the U.S.

“The stowaways, who included a Liberian national, are in custody and will be handed over to the Nigerian Immigration Service for further action.

“It will be recalled that 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,’’ she said.