The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has released 58 out of the 69 students from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, who were arrested earlier for their suspected involvement in internet fraud.
The arrests took place in the early hours of the day when EFCC operatives conducted a midnight raid on hostels outside the university campus. The commission reported that they apprehended the students in the Oduduwa Estate area of Ile-Ife, acting on “actionable intelligence” regarding their suspected participation in fraudulent internet-related activities.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Coordinator for South-West, John Alao, confirmed the release of the students in a telephone conversation with Channels Television.
The EFCC’s spokesman, Dele Oyewale, also verified the students’ release, stating that “many of the suspects duly profiled by the Command have been released, while profiling of suspects yet un-released will be completed, without further delay.” However, the exact number of students released was not specified.
The EFCC issued a statement indicating that, in accordance with newly-reviewed procedures for arresting and granting bail to suspects, night-time sting operations would be discontinued in all the EFCC’s Commands. The statement emphasized the Commission’s commitment to upholding the rule of law while fulfilling its mandate.
Before the students’ release, OAU students protested at the EFCC office in Ibadan, expressing their concerns about their fellow students’ arrests.
Protesters displayed placards with various inscriptions, such as “I am a medical student, not a Yahoo boy,” “Why remove the CCTV cameras if you are armed robbers,” and “Criminals trying to arrest criminals.”
At the EFCC Ibadan office, security personnel had secured the premises, but the protesting students called on the commission’s leadership to address their concerns.
The arrests and subsequent release have sparked conversations about the handling of such cases and the need for law enforcement agencies to adhere to due process and the rule of law in their activities.