Controversy trails arrest of Nigerian child traffickers in Cote d’Ivoire

Abidjan – Child-trafficking and prostitution involving Nigerians has triggered a controversy in Abidjan following the arrest of 16 victims with consular cards issued by the Nigerian embassy in Cote d’Ivoire.

The victims, mostly teenagers, were arrested by the Ivorian police, working with Interpol and an NGO, `Family for Protection of Human Rights’ (FEPDH).

The Consular cards are security documents issued by the Nigerian Embassy in Cote d’Ivoire to protect citizens from harassment by security authorities.

More than two million Nigerians reside in Cote d’Ivoire, with many relying only on the consular cards as a form of identity.

The Nigerian Ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire, Kayode Obajuluwa, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the consular cards were usually issued based on the recommendations of the Nigerian community leaders.

“Any Nigerian who is applying for consular I D card must obtain certification or confirmation from the Nigerian community leaders.

They fill a form and come along with the application to the embassy before the cards are issued.

“But these girls must have come and presented themselves as Nigerians living here. And, you know, on these cards you have to state your profession.’’

Obajuluwa said “hundreds’’ of cards get processed each day so the embassy had to rely on community leaders for screening before issuance.

He said the presidents of the Nigerian community had been instructed to submit specimen signatures and their stamps in order to check fraudulent practice.

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