By Nosa Aituamen
The officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos Command have arrested two travellers over stolen and fake international passports.
The travellers, Melekwe Gift and Melekwe Peace who were on their way to India were arrested aboard Qatar Airways flight on June 23, 2022.
A statement by Mrs. Louisa Amadiokoro, the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Lagos Airport Command stated that the duo were arrested during an immigration clearance, adding that this was made possible through the stringent measures put in place by the command.
The statement quotes Mrs. Kemi Nandap, the Assistant Comptroller-General, MMA Command as saying that the command had improved its surveillance and security measures in line with Mr. Isah Idris, the Acting Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service.
According to her, the command had ensured drastic reduction in human trafficking through the airport, stressing that the arrested travellers claimed to be a couple, but regretted that they were in possession of a stolen passport and a fake passport, respectively.
She said, Melekwe Gift was in possession of a stolen passport that was watch-listed on the July 29, 2011, while Melekwe Peace was in possession of a fake passport revealed by the command’s forensic investigation.
However, the duo claimed to have obtained the passports through an agent named Yusuf.
“Upon investigation, it was uncovered that the couple was travelling to seek greener pastures, which contradicted their earlier claim that Melekwe Gift was traveling for medical treatment- claiming she was suffering from leukemia, whereas she was perfectly healthy”.
“Further investigation revealed that they were not a couple, but strangers that only met a day before their planned trip.”
The NIS Assistant Comptroller-General, MMIA explained further that Gift’s real names is Endurance Ofem Ikpi from Ugep, Cross Rivers state and was never married to Melekwe Peace, but was instructed by the agent to claim so.
Gift in her confessional statement, allegedly claimed that her old friend, Tina who now resides in India introduced her to the idea of traveling with the promise that she would get her a job in India.
Mrs. Nandap said, the suspects were obviously traveling abroad in search of greener pastures and are also suspected to be victims of human trafficking.
The suspects after interrogation were handed over to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) for further necessary action.