OAU Meets EFCC Over The Arrest Of 69 Students, 11 To Face Trial For Fraud

The administration of Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife announced that it will be meeting with representatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the wake of the 69 alleged Internet fraudsters—many of whom are university students—being apprehended.

In a nocturnal raid, EFCC agents assaulted hostels outside of OAU, including the Fine Touch and Superb hostels in the Oduduwa Estate, Ile-Ife. They smashed into rooms and took the students into custody.

According to Akinremi Ojo, President of the Students’ organization, the organization got information on “72 students picked up from the hostel with phones and cars taken away” on Wednesday morning. The president denounced the method used in the arrests while demanding the students’ release.

A former union official, Joy Abiola said that, “The EFCC officials came between 1:40 a.m. and 4:00 a.m.,” saying, “Only students stay in those hostels. How can you arrest people for owning iPhones, laptops, and cars? Some of the students are only tech experts.”

A student posted a video of some young people who appeared to be dormitory students being herded into a white Hummer bus. Security guards were beating the people and telling them to get in immediately.

Another video showed the white Hummer Bus traveling from Ile-Ife to the capital of Oyo State, Ibadan, where it was parked next to the EFCC zonal headquarters.

A few hours later, the EFCC announced that it had detained 69 people in Ile-Ife in a statement posted on its official Facebook page. The suspects’ names were disclosed by the anti-graft agency, but no information on whether they were students was provided.

“They were arrested on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, at the Oduduwa Estate area of Ile-Ife, Osun State, following actionable intelligence on their suspected involvement in fraudulent Internet-related activities. Credible intelligence linked Oduduwa Estate with activities of suspected internet fraudsters,” the statement said.

The agency disclosed further that, “The suspects have made useful statements to the EFCC and will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.”

A few OAU students organized by union officials marched from Ile-Ife to the EFCC headquarters in Ibadan a few hours after the arrests in order to seek the release of their fellow students. As the armed security personnel blocked access to the EFCC building, they were observed demonstrating.

“We’re here until they release the students,” the PRO of the Students’ Union, Elijah Omisore said.

The National Association of Nigerian Students’ Osun Joint Campus Committee issued a statement denouncing the students’ arrests as well.

“Without any justification or evidence, they invaded the residence of the OAU students and transported them (the students) to Ibadan. We condemn this action in the strongest possible terms,” the spokesperson for the student body, Adedapo Emmanuel, said in a statement.

The Public Relations Officer of the university, Abiodun Olarewaju, also said, “we (the management) are currently at the EFCC office in Ibadan to meet the officials.” He later confirmed that “58 of the students were released to us. The remaining 11 of them have cases to answer.”