OAU students demand apology, colleagues’ release as EFCC deletes posts

Students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife have demanded an apology from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission following the arrest of 69 suspects by the commission in a raid of outside campus hostels in the wee-hours of Wednesday.

The Students’ Union of the university had said the arrested persons were students of the university. The students were driven by the EFCC from the university environment in Ile-Ife, Osun, to the commission’s office in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

But following a protest by the students who stormed the zonal office of the anti-graft agency at Iyaganku, Ibadan on Wednesday, 58 of the students were released.

The OAU Public Relations Officer, Abiodun Olanrewaju, while confirming the students’ release to PUNCH Metro Wednesday night said, “Fifty eight of the students were released to us. The remaining 11 of them have cases to answer.”

However, things took a turn on Thursday when checks on the verified Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram pages of the EFCC showed that the previous posts on the arrest of the suspects could not be found.

Our correspondent made efforts to reach out to the Head, Media & Publicity Unit of the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, on why the posts were deleted and the fate of the remaining 11 suspects. Oyewale has not answered several calls and a text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.

In the deleted posts, the EFCC had on Wednesday said, “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 disclosed further that, “The suspects have made useful statements to the EFCC and will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday, a statement signed by the Students’ Union officials which was sent to PUNCH Metro demanded that the EFCC should clear the names of their members, saying efforts were on to seek the release of the remaining 11.

“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,” the statement jointly signed by the union’s president, Abbas Ojo; Secretary General, Akinboni Opeyemi and PRO, Omisore Elijah, partly said.

Speaking further with our correspondent, the union’s PRO, Omisore, said, “We want the EFCC to apologise and clear the names of the students (earlier published).”

He told our correspondent that the leadership of the union and other students were still at the EFCC office in Ibadan, where efforts, including legal ones, were being explored to ensure the release of the 11 detained persons.

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