NIS raises alarm over increased use of Ecowas Travel Certificate for human trafficking


The Authority of the Nigeria Immigration Services (NIS) in Bayelsa State has raised an alarm over the increase in the use of the Ecowas Travel Certificate (ETC) by suspected human traffickers to transport aged persons outside the country.

According to the NIS,​ data check and analysis showed that there is a sudden and worrisome increase in the rate at which young people patronized the ECOWAS Travel Certificate, which has led to the rescue of two persons by denying them the facility and denying several others without genuine reasons after due diligent interrogation.

The Bayelsa Command of the NIS, in a statement issued and signed by Comptroller, Sunday James, the Service after due 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, said that “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 zero down to any suspected case.

“It has yielded results. So far, it has helped in rescuing two (2) victims by denying them the facility and denying several others without genuine reasons after due diligent interrogation, in one of the cases the trafficker who is at large after the victim was stopped prompted our alert system.”

He pointed out that in line with the directive of the Comptroller General of Immigration Service Isa Jere Idris, to all heads of Command and special formations of the Service towards the end of the year to ensure water-tight border control and management.

“A victim by the name Miss Maureen Ekpe was stopped and denied facility after a thorough investigation, while the purported trafficker is at large, the victim was released to her family with warning.”

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The Bayelsa state Command headed by Comptroller James Sunday, PCC 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.

He assured that 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) are established through the use of our interrogative process and vital intelligence tools to fight the menace.​ ​ ​

According to him,​ the Command call on parents and guardians to desist from releasing their Wards/Children to people with hidden identities or motives, by verifying the kind of work they are to be employed for, where and to report any suspicious moves to take their children outside the country for unconfirmed work and mouth-watering​ plans, the fight must be collective, to safeguard the lives and destinies of this young people. All cases being investigated will be concluded before New Year and report forwarded to the Service Headquarters.

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