Two Nigerians have been reportedly killed off the shores of Gbanken Beach in Grand Kru, Liberia, while aboard the Ophelia Panana, a Japan-bound ship.
According to AllAfrica.com, 12 other Nigerians were rescued by members of a Liberian joint task force while trying to escape from being killed by the ship’s crew between September 11 and 12.
The Nigerians were believed to be stowaways trying to make it to Japan by illegally boarding the ship.
The crew members, believed to be either Chinese or Japanese nationals, reportedly killed the two men and dumped their bodies in the ocean, while the 12 survivors managed to swim to the shores of Gbanken Beach, where they were rescued by the task force.
The Nigerians were said to be carrying multiple wounds on their bodies when they were rescued. Those killed on the ship were identified as Frank and Osas Velurobo.
According to Chris Teah, the task force’s head, the ship left Lagos around September 5.
“The ship was less than a mile from the shore. Six Nigerians swam and came on shore. They told us that they were 14 Nigerians and they were told that they were going to Japan. They believed that the crew on the ship could be Japanese or Chinese because they look alike,” Teah said.
Teah said the Nigerians were discovered in their hiding place after they banged on the ship to request food from the crew. This was after they had spent five days onboard without food or water.
“They were discovered up the deep sea by the crew. They (crew) sprayed hot water on them and two of their colleagues were killed. Six persons swam to get on shore. According to the Nigerians, they got on the ship clandestinely, but when they left Nigeria some five days ago, they went out of food. They started hitting the yacht so that the crew could get the information that people were on board the ship,” Teah said.
“The crew came and rescued them. They and the crew were like cool for like two days and on the third day, they started maltreating them up to the time they hit the soil of Liberia [sic].
“Four more persons were rescued from the ship directly and the last two were thrown into the ocean by the guys (crew). The two that were reported killed, we didn’t see them and we don’t know whether they were killed on the Liberian soil or it happened at deep sea.”
Teah said a total of 12 Nigerians were rescued and brought to the shore by his team. He also said that the rescued men were in the custody of the country’s joint security.