The Police Special Fraud Unit in Lagos State has arraigned a travel agent, Abioye Abolaji, for alleged visa racketeering, including the forging of the United Nations invitation letters for no fewer than 77 visa applicants in the state.
The spokesperson for the PSFU, SP Eyitayo Johnson, in a statement on Thursday, said Abolaji was arraigned on 11 counts bordering on alleged forgery, obtaining money by false pretence, false representation and stealing.
He said, “The arrest of the suspect was in furtherance to a petition from the Diplomatic Security Services Regional Security office at the United States Consulate General, Lagos, which requested a discrete investigation into forged documents submitted by certain C-2 visa applicants to the Non-Immigrant Visa Unit of the USCG. The C-2 visa is an NIV category reserved for participants at United Nations conferences/events.
“An investigation by the USCG and the PSFU into 77 C-2 applications from 24 organisations in Nigeria to attend two separate conferences, including the 67th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the UN 2023 Water Conference scheduled to take place in New York between March 22 and 24, 2023, revealed that most of the applicants are not qualified for the visa classification they applied for because the applicants provided forged UN invitation letters.
“The applicants, who claimed to be employees of Osun and Sons Agricultural Venture, Ray D. Exclusive Electrical Contractor, or ACE Technoresources Integrated Services, planned to attend the UN Water Conference as representatives or nominees of these organisations but investigation revealed that none of the organisations is in consultative status with the UN and that the employment of most of the applicants had no bearing to either of the referenced UN conferences.”
Johnson said further information elicited during police interviews of the visa applicants led to the arrest of Abolaji, who was described as the arrowhead of a notorious syndicate that specialised in visa fraud.
“Consequently, the Commissioner of Police, PSFU, Adepoju Ilori, advised prospective visa applicants to desist from patronising document vendors/visa racketeers for the processing of category B-1 and B-2 visas or any other travel documents.
The CP further encouraged applicants to research the procedure/requirements of visa for their intended country of destination or to approach the diplomatic section of the PSFU for guidance in order not to fall victim to visa racketeers. The unit is currently on the trail of other members of the syndicate,” the statement said.