FOUR stowaways from Lagos, Nigeria have ridden over two thousand nautical miles on a ship’s rudder in a desperate bid to reach Spain. 

Behind the helm of the Bergen oil tanker, the men sat hidden for 10 days before police discovered them in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. 

A Spanish boat shone its lights on the vessel Champion Pula’s rudder, which revealed the men sat there in plain sight. 

It comes as special forces have been deployed to an oil tanker off the Isle of Wight, where seven allegedly violent stowaways, also from Lagos, were discovered on the boat. 

Spanish authorities have refused the four men on Champion Pula entry to the country and the quartet have subsequently been arrested at the boat’s destination in Porsgrunn, Norway.  

“Over 5,000 illegal immigrants have arrived in [the] Canary Islands this year, and they have been given strict instructions from Madrid to prevent further arrivals when possible,” said a P&I representative. 

Lagos has been the site of political unrest and alleged police brutality this month following protests to abolish the hated Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). 

Evidence of police shooting protestors has been ‘credible but disturbing’, according to Amnesty International.

Many of the shootings occurred in the wealthy Lekki neighbourhood when authorities opened fire on demonstrators in breach of a 24-hour curfew, according to local and social media. 

Prior to protests beginning in Nigeria this month, Amnesty International report there were at least 82 cases of torture, ill treatment and extra-judicial execution in the country between January 2017 and May 2020. 

As many attempt to flee the country, stowaways on oil tankers have become increasingly common.

A 27-year-old man from Lagos was discovered on another vessel in Las Palmas this month, sources told the Olive Press

He ‘did not act in a hostile or aggressive manner’ when discovered and said he had boarded the vessel in hope of a ‘better life’ when questioned. 

But Spanish authorities did not allow the refugee to disembark, despite the best efforts of P&I officials. 

Crew locked the man in a cabin and the stowaway has now become ‘very aggressive’ in his attempts to escape, say sources. 

After further unsuccessful attempts to release the man at other docking locations along the ship’s route, he allegedly remains in captivity on the vessel. 

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