The management of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife said it was meeting the officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission following the arrest of 69 suspected Internet fraudsters, many of whom are students of the university.
Fifty eight of the students were later released late Wednesday.
Officials of the EFCC in a midnight raid stormed hostels outside the OAU campus, including Fine Touch and Superb hostels in the Oduduwa Estate, Ile-Ife, broke into rooms, and arrested the students.
The Students’ Union President, Akinremi Ojo, said on Wednesday morning the union had details of “72 students picked up from the hostel with phones and cars taken away.” The president demanded the release of the students while condemning the approach of the arrests.
A former union official, Joy Abiola, told our correspondent that the students were beaten during the arrests.
Abiola told PUNCH Metro 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.”
In a video shared with our correspondent by one of the students, several young persons said to be students of the hostel were seen being marched into a white Hummer Bus with some security officials hitting them and ordering them to move and enter quickly.
In another video, about six vehicles were seen alongside the white Hummer Bus as they left Ile-Ife for the EFCC zonal office in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Meanwhile, the EFCC in a statement on its verified Facebook page hours later confirmed that it arrested 69 suspects in Ile-Ife. The anti-graft agency listed the names of the suspects but was silent on their identity as students.
“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.”
Hours after the arrests, several OAU students led by union officers mobilised from Ile-Ife to the EFCC office in Ibadan to demand the release of their colleagues. They were seen protesting as the armed security operatives barricaded the EFCC premises.
“We’re here until they release the students,” the PRO of the Students’ Union, Elijah Omisore, told PUNCH Metro in a telephone interview.
The Osun Joint Campus Committee arm of the National Association of Nigerian Students in a statement also condemned the arrest of students.
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.
While speaking with our correspondent on Wednesday evening, the Public Relations Officer of the university, Abiodun Olarewaju, 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.”