Recent activities by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, have sparked reactions from Nigerians and even netizens across various spheres of life.
This is as many have considered some of their recent anti-graft bids as “unnecessary” while others regard it as “extreme” or a step beyond their statutory duties.
A good number of Nigerians and netizens also consider the EFCC as a deliberate antagonist to the youths.
Following the EFCC’s involvement in series of cases that raised public outcry, Human rights lawyers, Tolu Babaleye and Inibehe Effiong, have cautioned the the Commission against activities similar to the disbanded special anti-robbery squad, SARS of the Nigeria Police.
SARS was in October 2020, disbanded following a massive protest by Nigerian youths who decried harassments, molestations and unlawful arrest by the Police operatives.
The peaceful protest however turned violent and consequently led to the death of several young people.
Similarly, the recent arrest of over 60 students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, on Wednesday by officials of the commission in a midnight raid on off-campus hostels got Tolu Babaleye and Inibehe Effiong concerned as human rights activists.
According to them, the incident which led to a protest by students of the institution while the EFCC ordered its operatives to stop carrying out sting operations at night, could spark outrage among youths which may lead to an anti-EFCC protest like the #EndSARS protest.
Babaleye stated this while speaking in an interview where he warned the commission against such activities and also called on the Federal Government to direct the EFCC to stay away from tertiary institutions.
Babalaye said, “It is an aberration and very unfortunate that the EFCC is only going after the soft targets that they can easily tame and arrest while leaving the big fraudsters to go scot-free.
“The EFCC should be an elite force because they are well-trained, so they should not behave like the disbanded SARS because if they continue like this, they should be expecting that anti-EFCC protests may spring up one day. You can’t treat youths this way and not expect such issues someday.
“Yes, we are aware that some of them (youths) are not well-behaved. But you can’t violate the sanity of the campus because of that; there are other ways to do your job and not cause distress to the campus.
“It should be made compulsory that they (the EFCC) inform the management of the institutions before they arrest on campus. There should be a rule of engagement for the commission.”
Similarly, Effiong said the EFCC has no business with students but should write the school’s management when a suspect is detected.
He added, “It is not enough to say you are stopping night operations. Let them stay off the campuses. What they (EFCC) have been doing is an embarrassment and it has to stop.
“It is indefensible that we will see armed operatives invading higher institutions in the name of searching for internet fraudsters. Universities are not such places for displaying abuse of power.
“Those (OAU) students deserve proper apology and compensation from the EFCC because they didn’t just arrest them, they went ahead to publish their names and images on the internet.
“The EFCC is behaving like the disbanded SARS and that has to stop. As we have seen, most of the students they picked up were not even involved in fraud. This is not the first time this has happened; it has happened in other institutions.”See Dollar(USD) to Naira Black Market Exchange Rate Today!