Traffickers evade security with ECOWAS travel certificate


THE Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has said human traffickers now exploit the Economic Community West African States (ECOWAS) travel certificate to avoid security checks while carrying out illicit activities.

In a statement released by the Bayelsa State Command of the NIS on Thursday, December 29, State Comptroller Sunday James said the certificate is being exploited by traffickers because of the low level of suspicion on persons using it to travel within the ECOWAS member states.

“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,” he said.

According to James, an additional document has been introduced for travellers to ECOWAS member states in a bid to further restrict illegal movement and strengthen security measures against human trafficking.

“It was on this ground that the unit directly responsible for the issuance, ECOWAS Unit, was tasked to add an additional security document to the requirement, called the Suspicious Travel Interrogation Form which has zeroed down to any suspected case and has yielded results,” James said.

He restated the organisation’s commitment to combating human trafficking and urged parents to be more vigilant before releasing children to relatives and other persons abroad.

Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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