March 3, 2024

Eritrean found with 80 passports at Entebbe Airport

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The Aviation Police, in conjunction with immigration officials, has launched a search for the owners of 80 passports discovered in the possession of an Eritrean national identified as Ali Hassan Hida. Hida was apprehended by the AVIPOL and immigration team at Entebbe Airport two days ago in the possession of the 80 passports but he could not explain the whereabouts of their owners.

According to Simon Peter Mundeyi, the Internal Affairs Ministry Spokesperson, Hida was entering Uganda via Entebbe Airport holding a heavy bag. He says that the bag was promptly inspected by immigration officials and the security team. To their surprise, they uncovered a collection of 80 passports belonging to Eritrean nationals.

However, Hida was unable to provide any explanation regarding the whereabouts of the passport owners. As a result, security officials initiated an investigation to determine whether these individuals are already residing in Uganda or if they intended to use Entebbe Airport as a transit point.

Authorities have noted that there have been numerous instances of Eritreans living in Uganda utilizing Entebbe Airport as a gateway to other countries. Many of these Eritreans initially arrived in Uganda as refugees but have subsequently found ways to migrate to Europe, particularly Norway, where they seek and obtain refugee status and eventually become citizens.

It is not only Eritreans who have been implicated in using Entebbe Airport for transit purposes. There have been several cases involving Ethiopians who have been apprehended with Ethiopian passports at the airport, often without a clear destination or purpose for their travel. Additionally, there have been instances where foreigners have forged or fraudulently acquired Ugandan passports.

One recent incident involved the arrest of Gadiel Ishime, a 29-year-old male music artist from Burundi. Ishime initially entered Uganda in August 2015 using a Burundian passport but later obtained a fraudulently acquired Ugandan national identity card by falsely declaring himself as a Munyankole from Kiruhura District.

Ishime was apprehended at the Busia Border Post while attempting to travel to Germany using a Ugandan passport. Another case involved Joshua David Saunders, a 27-year-old Nigerian male involved in the computer industry. Saunders, who frequently visited Uganda as a tourist, managed to fraudulently acquire a Ugandan national ID and passport.

During his arrest, it was revealed that he had presented Gibson Sseruwagi, a relative, during the passport acquisition process, leading to Sseruwagi’s arrest as well. Similarly, a Rwandan national Sam Kaliisa, 29, was apprehended for impersonating someone named Shafiq and using their details to acquire a Ugandan national ID and passport.

Mundeyi issued a stern warning to Ugandans involved in assisting foreigners in obtaining national IDs and passports, emphasizing that they would face arrest and prosecution. The immigration department also cautioned individuals against attempting to manipulate the system, assuring the public that their systems are robust and anyone attempting to deceive them would be apprehended.

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