Four Nigerian Stowaways Survived 14 Days on Ship’s Rudder


Four Nigerians were rescued in Brazil after surviving for two weeks on a ship’s rudder. They had packed provisions for 10 days, but when they ran out of food and water, they began to drink seawater.

The four men were located in the rudder, a part of a ship located outside of the hull, traditionally by the stern of the boat. The men were perched on the rudder with nothing but a rope to stabilize them, where they could see sharks and large fish. When the boat docked in Brazil and the men were rescued, they showed symptoms of dehydration and hypothermia. All were transferred into hospital care. The men were trying to reach Europe but ended up in Vitoria, Brazil. 

Two of the men have returned to Nigeria upon their own request and the others—Thankgod Opemipo Matthew Yeye and Roman Ebimene Friday—have applied for asylum to stay in Brazil, citing economic hardship, political instability, and crime as reasons they needed to stay in Brazil. Nigeria has a number of issues the men were trying to escape, including poverty, kidnapping, and violence. Friday had previously attempted to flee Nigeria via ship but was arrested by Nigerian authorities. 

The trip on the boat to Brazil began on June 27, 2023, when a fisherman rowed to the ship. He was surprised to see there were three men in the rudder. The stowaways were barely able to sleep and considered their escape to be an overall unpleasant experience. In an interview with Reuters, Friday was quoted saying, “I pray the government of Brazil will have pity on me.” 

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