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EFCC arrest students, suspected internet fraudsters in night raid

An ‘illegal night raid’ was conducted by the Benin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and a total of 33 individuals, including 14 undergraduates from the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Ondo State, were apprehended on suspicion of their involvement in internet-related crimes. 

The raid, executed in the early hours of Wednesday, February 14, 2024, targeted various residential locations within the Akure metropolis.

EFCC operatives descended upon the targeted areas, saying they were responding to urgent appeals from concerned neighbours and parents to prevent their children from falling prey to cybercrime. 

EFCC noted that the operation yielded the arrest of the suspects, accompanied by the seizure of significant items, including ten luxury cars, mobile phones, laptops, and a motorcycle.

However the operation has led to allegations by the students and FUTA students’ union issuing a statement condemning the operation, highlighting instances of property destruction, assault, and the violation of students’ rights.

One female student who shared her harrowing experience during the raid. In a voicenote posted on the students’ union X page, described waking up to the unsettling sight of flashlight directed at her. 

Disoriented and vulnerable, she initially mistook the masked intruders for criminals, fearing for her safety.

“I woke up with flashlights on me. I was not wearing anything. I saw three men, and I was just begging them not to touch me because I was not wearing anything,” she recounted.

In her narrative, she detailed the confusion and terror she felt, as the men pressed her for information and rifled through the premises. “I could not even think they were law enforcement agents. I thought they were thieves or kidnappers,” she expressed.

Despite the unsettling encounter, the student, along with others, was eventually informed of the officials’ identity as EFCC operatives. 

However, she recalled the chaos that ensued as the raid progressed, with doors forcibly breached, students intimidated, and properties damaged.

“They started breaking doors. There was this boy in 100 level, who was telling them that he was a new student. They beat everybody. They packed everybody. They asked us to lie down on the floor. They were just breaking door, breaking everywhere. They packed phones, packed everything and left,” she described.

This is coming after a directive issued by the EFCC chairman, Ola Olukoyede, prohibiting nighttime sting operations following a similar controversial raid on a student estate in Osun State, months earlier.

The incident has raised concerns among student bodies, prompting outrage over alleged excessive use of force and disregard for due process.

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