The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested 69 students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife, on suspicion of internet fraud. The students were raided at Oduduwa Estate area of Ile Ife on Wednesday following “actionable intelligence” on their suspected involvement in fraudulent internet-related activities.
The EFCC said the students made useful statements at its office, listing “exotic cars, 190 mobile phones and 40 laptops” among items seized from them.
The students will be arraigned after investigations are concluded. The arrest has sparked outrage among many Nigerians, who have accused the EFCC of harassment and intimidation.The EFCC has been criticized for its methods in the past, but the agency has defended its actions in this case, saying that it had concrete evidence against the students.
However, many Nigerians believe that the EFCC is targeting young people simply because they own gadgets such as laptops and smartphones. This has led to comparisons between the EFCC and the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a now-defunct police unit that was notorious for its brutality and extrajudicial killings. SARS was disbanded in 2020 following nationwide protests against police brutality.
The arrest of the OAU students has raised fears that the EFCC is becoming a new version of SARS. Critics say that the agency is targeting young people without any evidence of wrongdoing, and that its methods are arbitrary and discriminatory.
The clampdown on internet fraud is a significant development in the fight against cybercrime in Nigeria. However, the methods used by the EFCC have raised concerns about the agency’s commitment to human rights and the rule of law. It is important to note that the students have not yet been charged with any crime, and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, the EFCC’s actions have raised fears that the agency is becoming a new version of SARS.
The Nigerian government must ensure that the EFCC’s investigation into the OAU students is fair and impartial. The agency must also be transparent about its methods and findings. The government must also work to ensure that the EFCC does not become a tool for the harassment and intimidation of young Nigerians.
UPDATE: All 69 students have been released on Wednesday evening after pressure and backlash from the public and government quarters .