Protest Rocks Ondo Over EFCC Arrest of Groom, 127 Suspected Internet Fraudsters

June 10, 2024

Youths in Akure, the Ondo State capital, have protested the arrest of 127 persons suspected to be internet fraudsters by the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the weekend.

Recall that the security personnel raided two night clubs in the metropolis and arrested a groom-to-be and his friends who were at one of the clubs for a bachelors’ eve.

Vehicles, telephones and laptops belonging to the fun seekers were confiscated by the security personnel during the early morning sting operation.

The protesters stormed the major streets in Akure metropolis, expressing their displeasure over the action of the anti-graft agency.

They marched to the Governor’s Office in Alagbaka to show their grievances and called for their release.

Speaking with newsmen, their leader, Oluwaseun Ogunmola, said the raid by the anti-graft agency was against its ban on night operation.

Ogunmola, however, demanded that those arrested and profiled as internet fraudsters in the Akure club should be released unconditionally.

Another leader, Tobi Akinnubi said: “In Nigeria now, youths cannot use phone, laptop, they can’t drive cars because EFCC sees them as fraudsters. Our ladies have been taken away, did they commit any offense? This is purely brutality. Enough is enough and we must put an end to this.

“We demand justice on this actions, the Federal Government should please look into this case because we can’t continue like this.”

The protesters complained of brutality by EFCC personnel during the night raids.

The protesters were addressed by the state’s Secretary to the Government (SSG), Tayo Oluwatuyi and the the youths and Sports Commissioner, Saka Yussuf-Ogunleye.

They informed the protesters that the state governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, had waded into the matter and lauded them for their peaceful protest.

Meanwhile, the state Police Commissioner Abayomi Oladipo, has called for calm over the last weekend sting operation by the operatives of the EFCC.

Oladipo in a statement in Akure, said: “The State Government and the Inspector-General of Police have been informed and are taking steps to ensure that all concerns are addressed without prejudice.

“Thus, the Command calls for peace to allow relevant authorities look into the matter with a view to addressing the complaints and concerns of aggrieved residents.

“The Command recognizes the constitutional rights of citizens to peaceful protest but this rights must be exercised without breach of public order and non infringement on the rights of other law abiding citizens, as the Police owe it a duty to protect the rights of all citizens and foreign nationals resident within or transiting through the State at all times.

“We appeal to the good people of Ondo State, especially the youths who claimed to have been adversely affected by the sting operation to act with restraint and comport themselves within the ambits of the laws of the land.

“While urging victims and their sympathizers to calm their frayed nerves and follow laid down procedures in channeling their complaints to appropriate authorities for possible redress and not embark on a self help mission that can lead to break down of law and order in the State.”

Also, the state governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, has waded into the matter by meeting with club owners in the state.

The Owners of night clubs and hotels affected by the raid gave the accounts of how their facilities were vandalised by the officers of the anti-graft body when they arrested some suspected internet fraudsters in the early hours of Saturday in Akure.

Addressing the club owners at the meeting held at the Government House, Governor Aiyedatiwa sympathised with them on the damages done to their facilities and loss of revenue.

Aiyedatiwa urged them to compile a record of all their facilities destroyed during the raids so they can use it to present their genuine cases to the necessary authorities.

He, however, said: “there can’t be smoke without fire, the EFCC has the mandate to carry out arrest of suspects and must have acted on credible intelligence to carry out the raids.

The governor said innocent people affected by the operation should seek redress while those who had cases to answer should be allowed to defend themselves.

He added that he had been in communication with top security agencies to get credible reports on the incident and promised to intervene wherever necessary.