July 22, 2024

Human traffickers use ECOWAS Travel Certificate, NIS says

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Human traffickers use ECOWAS Travel Certificate, NIS says

Nathan Tamarapreye, Yenagoa

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in Bayelsa on Thursday raised the alarm on the increased use of ECOWAS Travel Certificates (ETC) by human traffickers to evade suspicion and arrest.

The NIS said it uncovered the new strategy used by human traffickers to evade security checks and avoid suspicion by using the ETC as a travel document by their victims to any of the ECOWAS Member States to evade stringent checks at the airports and lower the level of suspicion.

The NIS in Bayelsa also said that in line with the directive of the Comptroller General of Immigration Service, Isa Jere Idris, a trafficking victim by the name of Miss Maureen Ekpe was rescued and released to the family, while the alleged trafficker is at large.

The Public Relations Officer, for NIS in Bayelsa, Mr Ibiemo Cookey in a statement in Yenagoa, noted that the NIS in Bayelsa after noticing a sudden increase in the rate at which young people obtained the ECOWAS travel certificate, did a risk analysis and a checklist of the age group that goes for it, as well as the reasons given for the travel and countries where the holders of the document frequent before it attached additional security measure to the issuance of the document.

“The Bayelsa State Command headed by Comptroller James Sunday, in a proactive and improved investigative strategy has uncovered the newly adopted ways used by human traffickers to evade security checks and avoid suspicion by using the Ecowas Travel Certificate (ETC) as a travel document to transport their victims to any of the ECOWAS Member States to evade stringent checks at the airport and lower the level of suspicion in view of the limitation of countries the document is valid for travel.    

“The command noticed a sudden increase in the rate at which young people patronised the ECOWAS Travel Certificate and did a risk analysis and a checklist of the age group that goes for it, the reasons given for the travel and countries where the holders of the document frequent, it was on this ground that the unit directly responsible for the issuance, ECOWAS Unit was tasked to add additional security document to the requirement, call the Suspicious Travel Interrogation Form which was zeroed down to any suspected case and has yielded result, so far.

“It has helped in rescuing two victims by denying them the facility and denying several others without genuine reasons for travels after due diligent interrogation, in one of the cases the trafficker who is at large after the victim was stopped prompted our alert system and gave the Command the Idea behind the increasing demand for the document against the conventional passport.

“The Bayelsa command will not rest on its oars until the syndicates are exposed and the only well justified, authentic trips without any link to Trafficking in Persons (TIPs) or Smuggling of Migrants (SOM) is established through the use of our interrogative process and vital intelligence tools to fight the menace,” Cookey said.         

The NIS called on parents and guardians to desist from releasing their Wards/Children to people with hidden identities or motives, by verifying the kind of work their children are being offered and to report any suspicious movement to take their children outside the country for unconfirmed work and mouth-watering plans.

The NIS explained that the fight against human trafficking must be collective, to safeguard the lives and destinies of young people.

The NIS also assured that all cases being investigated will be concluded before New Year for an onward report to the Service Headquarters, Abuja, while the command steps up its strategies, officers and men are warned to avoid being accomplices in any way.

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