OAU Students Demand Apology and Clarity from EFCC Following Controversial Arrests
Students of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, have voiced their demand for an official apology from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the wake of a controversial incident involving the arrest of 69 suspects in a raid conducted outside campus hostels during the early hours of Wednesday.
The arrest operation, carried out by the EFCC, prompted an immediate response from the Students’ Union of the university, asserting that those apprehended were indeed students of the institution. Subsequently, the students were transported by the EFCC from the university premises in Ile-Ife, Osun, to the commission’s headquarters in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State.
A swift response from the student body materialized in the form of a protest, as students gathered at the zonal office of the anti-graft agency in Iyaganku, Ibadan, on Wednesday. As a result of this protest, 58 of the arrested students were released.
The Public Relations Officer of Obafemi Awolowo University, Abiodun Olanrewaju, confirmed the release of these 58 students, stating, “Fifty-eight of the students were released to us. The remaining 11 of them have cases to answer.” However, the situation took an unexpected turn on Thursday when it was discovered that the EFCC’s verified social media accounts, including Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram, had deleted their previous posts related to the arrest of the suspects.
Efforts to contact the Head of the Media & Publicity Unit of the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, regarding the deletion of the posts and the status of the remaining 11 suspects went unanswered. As of the time of this report, Oyewale had not responded to multiple calls and a text message seeking clarification.
In the now-deleted posts, the EFCC had announced on Wednesday, “They (the 69 suspects) 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 the Oduduwa Estate with activities of suspected internet fraudsters.” The agency had also indicated that “The suspects have made useful statements to the EFCC and will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.”
In response to these developments, a statement jointly signed by the Students’ Union officials was issued and sent to PUNCH Metro on Thursday. In the statement, the student leaders demanded that the EFCC clear the names of their members and expressed their ongoing efforts to secure the release of the remaining 11 students.
The statement read, “Also, with the demand for the release of our students, the leadership of the union is making concerted efforts with legal practitioners to guarantee the protection of Great Ife students within and off-campus against the decadent actions of these misguided law enforcement agencies. We also demand that the EFCC tenders a public release clearing the names of the unlawfully incarcerated (students) of the unfounded allegations published on their media handles and broadcast to the whole country in which the earlier published posts had already been pulled down across all their social media platforms.”
Omisore Elijah, the union’s Public Relations Officer, emphasized, “We want the EFCC to apologize and clear the names of the students (earlier published).” He further disclosed that the union’s leadership and other students remained at the EFCC office in Ibadan, where they were exploring various avenues, including legal options, to ensure the release of the 11 detained individuals.