How Europe-bound Nigerian stowaways survived drinking urine on ship’s rudder

By Deji Lambo

Two of the four rescued Nigerian stowaways have narrated how they survived 14 days on a ship’s rudder by drinking their urine before being rescued off the coast of Brazil.

According to Daily Mail, the two men told their remarkable, death-defying journey across 3,500 miles (5,600 kilometres) of open ocean from Lagos, Nigeria to Vitória, Brazil.

The four stowaways were said to be fleeing the economic hardship and political instability in Nigeria and reportedly climbed into a space above the rudder of a cargo ship and hoped to reach Europe.

However, after two weeks of travelling, they ran out of food and water and in a bid to survive, resorted to drinking their urine and seawater as the ship pushed on towards South America.

Chronicling the challenges experienced during the journey, one of the stowaways, Thankgod Yeye, 38, in a report by the Daily Mail, said it was a terrible incident.

“It was a terrible experience for me. On board, it is not easy. I was shaking, so scared. But I’m here,” he said.

On his part, another victim, Roman Friday, 35, said they rigged up a net around the rudder to stop themselves falling in, adding that he saw “big fish like whales and sharks” in the ocean.

The Daily Mail reports that the victims were interviewed at a Sao Paolo church shelter after the ordeal, adding that they were finally rescued by Brazilian federal police in the southeastern port of Vitória two weeks after setting off on June 27.

It was learnt that due to the cramped conditions and the noise of the engine, sleeping was rare and risky.

Friday said, “I was very happy when we got rescued. I pray the government of Brazil will pity me.”

It was learnt that two of the rescued victims have since been returned to Nigeria upon their request, but Yeye and Friday were said to have applied for asylum in Brazil, citing economic hardship, political instability and crime as reasons for abandoning Nigeria.

According to the Daily Mail, Yeye, a Pentecostal minister from Lagos state, said his peanut and palm oil farm was destroyed by floods this year, leaving him and his family homeless.

As for Friday, he said his journey to Brazil began on June 27, when a fisherman friend rowed him up to the stern of the Liberian-flagged Ken Wave, docked in Lagos, and left him by the rudder where he found three men already waiting for the same ship to depart.

A priest at the Sao Paulo shelter, Father Paolo Parise, said he had come across other cases of stowaways, but never one so dangerous.

“People do unimaginable and deeply dangerous things,” he said.

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