EFCC now agent of extortion, Ondo Youths protest Nightclub invasion

….You’re now an agent of Extortion —Youths tell EFCC

…..say, “EFCC is only being misused to extort, probe officials”

There was a massive protest by some youths in Akure, the Ondo State capital which caused a gridlock around the city, protesting against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over a sting operation carried out in some nightclubs in the state last Saturday.

The youths, who are also protesting the arrest of some people at the nightclubs, said many of those arrested by the agency were held on unfounded allegations.

The protesters displayed placards with various inscriptions such as “End EFCC,” “EFCC free our brothers,” “We don’t scam, give us jobs,” and “EFCC stop the extortion and harassment; “EFCC is being misused to extort, probe officials.”

The youths, comprising sympathizers, families, and friends of the suspects, took the protest to the Governor’s office in Alagbaka.

The protest, which lasted several hours, caused traffic gridlock within the state capital and forced passengers to use commercial motorcycles, while many were stranded in the traffic.

It will be recalled that the operatives of the EFCC stormed two popular nightclubs in the Alagbaka area of Akure over the weekend, arresting fun-seekers, including a groom and his friends at a bachelor’s Eve.

The EFCC operatives were said to have confiscated mobile phones, and vehicles belonging to those arrested were also seized.

The invasion of the EFCC operatives did not sit well with residents of the state, as some youths on Monday in Akure protested against the action of the anti-graft agency.

One of the leaders of the protesters, Oluwaseun Ogunmola, who spoke with newsmen, stated that the night raid of the EFCC negated the order of its Chairman, who recently banned night operations.

Ogunmola demanded that those arrested and profiled as internet fraudsters in the Akure clubs should be released unconditionally. He said the EFCC operatives created tension at the nightclubs by invading them around 1 am, shooting, and creating fear, as most people thought they were armed robbers.

He said, “In Nigeria now, youths cannot use phones, laptops, or drive cars because EFCC sees them as fraudsters.

Our ladies were whisked away; did they also commit any offense? This is pure brutality. Enough is enough, and we must put an end to this.

“We demand justice in these actions; the Federal Government should please look into this case because we can’t continue to live like this.”

Addressing the protesters, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Hon. Tayo Oluwatuyi, and the State Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Hon. Saka Yusuf-Ogunleye, assured the protesters that the government would work towards securing the release of those arrested.

Oluwatuyi, however, appealed to the protesters not to fight or cause inconveniences for anybody, promising to get in touch with the EFCC office in Ibadan to secure the release of those arrested.

The state Police command, which called for calm, said the Inspector-General of Police and the state government have been informed and are taking steps to ensure that all concerns are addressed without prejudice.

In a statement signed by police spokesperson Funmi Odunlami, who explained that “the Command is inundated with complaints about the recent sting operations carried out by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Akure, the Ondo State capital, and the controversies generated.

“The Police, on receipt of the information on the sting operations at about 03:30hrs of 09/06/2024, made contact with relevant stakeholders to ensure there was no breakdown of law and order in the state.

“Thus, the Command calls for peace to allow relevant authorities to look into the matter with a view to addressing the complaints and concerns of aggrieved residents.”

The statement further stated that “the Command recognizes the constitutional rights of citizens to peaceful protest, but these rights must be exercised without breaching public order and infringing on the rights of other law-abiding citizens, as the Police owe it a duty to protect the rights of all citizens and foreign nationals resident within or transiting through the State at all times.

“We appeal to the good people of Ondo State, especially the youths who claimed to have been adversely affected by the sting operation, to act with restraint and comport themselves within the ambits of the laws of the land.

“While urging victims and their sympathizers to calm their frayed nerves and follow laid down procedures in channeling their complaints to appropriate authorities for possible redress and not embark on a self-help mission that can lead to a breakdown of law and order in the State.”

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