Criminally-minded persons in their desperate bid to get rich quick are not relenting in their crook means and methods despite the concerted and tough measures being taken by the federal, state and local governments to rid Nigeria of illicit and criminal methods of material wealth acquisition.
Trafficking in persons especially criminal recruitment and sponsorship of unsuspecting young girls and even sometimes male and female adults to foreign countries for financial exploitation in disguise of education, work and better life, is one of such illicit trades that has continued to boom in Nigeria.
Luck, however, ran out on some human trafficking syndicates recently when officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) attached to the recently-established Alimoso Passport Front Office in Lagos, apprehended scores of the human traffickers, who came to the office to obtain the Nigerian travel passports for some young girls they planned to traffic overseas for illicit activities.
For instance, the NIS officers, few weeks ago, successfully burst the plan by a suspected human trafficking ring to take two underage girls out of the country.The alleged trafficker – a woman- had taken the girls to the passport office claiming they were her daughters, who needed the international passports to travel out of Nigeria.
But the eagle-eyed immigration officers detected that the woman’s age gap and the ages of the two girls did not match her claim that she gave birth to the teenage girls.
On further investigation, the suspect admitted that the girls were recruited for trafficking abroad, for commercial exploitation. Sources at the NIS revealed that many suspected human traffickers had been apprehended at the Alimoso Passport Front Office since it commenced operation on January 30, this year.
According to the sources, the traffickers might have wrongly assumed that they could have their way easily because the front office was new.
“It seems traffickers think because this passport office is new , they will have it easy. It is not possible here as we scrutinise every form and ensure due diligence.
“We have had instances where people wanted to procure passports for adopted children for the purpose of taking them overseas. Those who have legal documents of adoption were directed to Abuja because only the CGI (Comptroller General of Immigration) has the final say on such issues,” a senior officer, who begged not to be mentioned, said.
The officer added, “For those who did illegal adoptions, they came posing that the babies were their biological kids but were uncovered by our diligent officers. When certain documents were required from them, some of them didn’t come back.”
Confirming the arrest of the latest suspected trafficker, the Passport Control Officer (PCO), Mrs. Ayoola Malaolu, said several human traffickers, who came to the Alimoso NIS Passport Front Office, had been apprehended upon being detected that they came to obtain the Nigerian travel passports for unlawful purposes.
She commended the officers for their professionalism and dedication to duty, assuring that her team would continue to work professionally and stop traffickers and others with criminal intentions from getting travel documents with which they can perpetrate their evil work.
Mrs. Malaolu appealed to applicants for passports, whether fresh or reissue, to always go through the online application process and payment platform, as well as to exercise patience and follow the queue, assuring that they would be courteously attended to.