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  • Opinion
  • Updated: June 08, 2024

EFCC: Akure raid and the crudity that won't stop

EFCC: Akure raid and the crudity that won't stop

By Lere Olayinka

I woke up this morning to another disturbing news of operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC invading some lounges and event centres in the Alagbaka area of Akure, the Ondo State Capital at about 1 am today.

The EFCC operatives arrested over 50 people suspected to be internet fraudsters popularly called Yahoo Boys.

Among those arrested and whisked away was a groom-to-be who was in one of the clubs with his friends for his Bachelor’s Eve celebration.

The personnel were said to have stormed the areas in different cars around 1 am, shooting sporadically into the air. They also confiscated scores of vehicles, laptops, sophisticated phones, and other items.

An eyes witness said; “They were entering the nightclubs and lounges, tear-gassing people, beating them up and arresting them. They don’t care who are, even two soldiers were injured as they shot tear gas canisters inside one of the clubs. 

"They collected so many things, damaged CCTV cameras, beat Waiters and Waitresses and Bar Guys.

“They also went away with a groom and his friends at a club, he was there for his bash eve, so sad as they profiled everyone as I=internet fraudsters.”

A popular politician, who owns a popular club in Akure is being fingered as the instigator of the raid. Business competition! And EFCC is allegedly being used?

Now, when I speak against the EFCC Gestapo and its crude manner of operations, some people will say "You are supporting corruption" Bla Bla Bla.

So what manner of operatives of an anti-corruption agency will invade lounges at night, shoot sporadically, assault people including workers, arrest people randomly, destroy CCTV Cameras and assault soldiers?

Is that how to fight corruption?

When I raised issues concerning the way and manner the EFCC was going about its case against the former Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, our usual social media mobs were like, Lere Olayinka has turned himself into a defender of corruption.

I insisted then that it was Yahaya Bello today, it can be you, I or anyone tomorrow.

Perhaps, some of the victims of the Akure show of crudity were among those who applauded the EFCC for invading Yahaya Bello's house to arrest him despite the pendency of a court order barring the anti-corruption agency from arresting and prosecuting him.

Perhaps, some of the victims, including the groom-to-be were among those who stood on the rooftops to hail the EFCC Chairman when he stood before Television Cameras to indirectly pass a guilty verdict on Yahaya Bello even before the commencement of his trial.

Now, it is their turn! It is their turn to be treated like a common criminal even before investigation and when it suits the EFCC, some of them will be released to go home and nurse their bruises without any apology.

That's the kind of attitude of the EFCC that people like us are against, not that they should not do their job. This is also because I know for a fact that the EFCC or any anti-corruption agency does not need to carry out random arrests to do its job.

Recall that on November 1, 2023, the EFCC Chairman, Ola Olukoyede announced to Nigerians that he had banned sting operations at night and also ordered a review of the anti-graft agency's arrest and bail procedure to adhere to the rule of law and international best practices in the treatment of suspects.

According to the statement by Dele Oyewale, EFCC’s spokesperson, the order was given in reaction to the raid of off-campus hostels of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile Ife by operatives of the agency.

Armed EFCC operatives had broken into the students' hostels with hammers, and arrested 69 suspects for internet fraud-related offences.

The raid generated mixed reactions on social media as the institution’s students demanded the release of their arrested colleagues.

Less than 24 hours after the raid, many of the suspects were released, meaning that what operatives of the EFCC did was carry out random arrests as usual.

But the same sting operations at night that Olukoyede told Nigerians on November 1, 2023, that he banned was what operatives of the EFCC did in Akure in the wee hours of today.

As usual, he will say and do nothing. I only hope he won't begin to cry when the public begins to fight back. The same EFCC Chairman told Nigerians that operatives of the anti-graft agency were corrupt.

He said; "The craze and quest for gratification, bribes and other compromises by some of our investigators are becoming too embarrassing and this must not continue. Let me sound a note of warning in this regard. I will not hesitate to wield the big stick against any form of infraction by any staff of the Commission. 

"The Department of Internal Affairs has been directed to be more ardent in its work and monitor every staff in all their engagements. The image of the Commission is too important to be placed on the line by any corrupt officer."

Six months after making the statement, no single official of the EFCC has been shown to the public as an example of those collecting bribes among the operatives.

Even when the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II accused the EFCC of aiding crimes in the country and that its operatives take instructions from the highest bidder, Chairman Olukoyede said and did nothing.

Who is then fooling who? Who is lying to who?

How do you fight corruption by invading bars, clubs, lounges and student hostels at odd hours and standing on the roads to carry out random arrests? How do you go about destroying people's legitimate businesses in the name of fighting corruption?

Isn't it crude and primitive to arrest people randomly, clamp them in detention before finding out their culpability?

In saner climes, hardly can you see anti-corruption agencies carrying out random arrests. Rather, they only arrest suspects they have sufficient evidence to prosecute and in most cases, the suspects are arrested for arraignment and prosecution.

For instance, no one knew that the United States of America's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was after Ramon Abbas, better known as Hushpuppi, until he was arrested in Dubai in June 2020. 

His Google account was one of the things the FBI used to track him.

Within one year of his arrest and trial, he had pleaded guilty and admitted his involvement in a conspiracy to defraud a Qatari businessman of more than $1m. He was subsequently sentenced to 11 years in prison for conspiring to launder tens of millions of dollars from online scams.

But in the case of our own EFCC, suspects are arrested and detained before the commencement of the investigation. EFCC will even expect suspects to provide information with which they will be prosecuted and convicted.

One day, and very soon, Nigerians will be afraid of attending social events like naming ceremonies because of the possibility of armed EFCC operatives invading the venues and randomly arresting everyone, including the newborn baby.

 

Lere Olayinka writes from the topmost part of Oke Agbonna in Okemesi Ekiti, Ekiti State.

 

 

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