EFCC admits tampering with CCTV system of Akure; falsely claims videos of sexually assaulted women were doctored

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Sunday admitted that it forced the pulling of surveillance recordings of nightclubs after its operatives unleashed violence against revellers in Akure. 

The raids, which occurred between late Friday and early Saturday, have continued to generate nationwide uproar. Nigerians say the agency did not appear to have learnt any lessons from the controversies it suffered over similar raids in 2021 and 2022. 

In a statement Sunday night, the EFCC said its agents were tracing suspected internet fraudsters to nightclubs in the Alagbaka area of the Ondo capital. But Nigerians have lampooned the agency for its high-handedness because internet fraud is not a violent crime and operatives failed to conduct themselves in line with modern best practices. 

Scores of clubgoers sustained severe bodily injuries, while some women reported being sexually assaulted, with videos of bruises to their buttocks shared on social media.  

While pushing back against criticism on Sunday, EFCC spokesman Dele Oyewole said agents ordered club managers to remove CCTV material, adding that it would enable the anti-graft office to better investigate how the raid unfolded. 

Anti-graft agents  “directed the removal of the CCTV device for further investigative works by the commission,” Mr Oyewole said. “It is in the custody of the EFCC with the CCTV.”

But critics quickly dismissed the claim as frivolous because the EFCC operatives arrived at the scene with their own cameras. Many said the agency was trying to confiscate or destroy evidence of its officers’ culpability in unleashing violence on unarmed citizens.

The EFCC also falsely claimed that the videos shared online were manipulated to achieve purportedly unclearly ends, adding that the operation was without skirmishes because it followed “established norms.”

However, the agency did not provide any evidence to support its claim that the multimedia might have been doctored. An analysis by Peoples Gazette did not yield any evidence of manipulation.

Read the full statement by the EFCC below

Arising from the misinformation and distortion of facts about the arrest of 127 suspected internet fraudsters by operatives of the Ibadan Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Saturday, June 8, 2024, it becomes imperative to clearly present the true facts of the operation.

The Operatives executed a classical sting operation at two Clubs simultaneously in Akure based on credible intelligence, leading to the arrest of the suspected fraudsters. The operation, in line with the established ground norm for such engagement, was devoid of any incident as the Operatives conducted themselves professionally.

It was, therefore, shocking to be confronted with narratives, particularly from the social media, about brutalisation, including a trending video of two ladies showing bodies lacerated by whips. The Commission wants the public to discountenance this video as it may have been stage-managed to achieve motives that are unclear. The Commission will subject this video to forensic analysis to establish its falsehood and prepare a case against purveyors of this distasteful stunt.

The Commission wishes to state that no suspect was assaulted, brutalised or subjected to any dehumanising treatment during the Saturday operation. It is also false that tear gas was fired at the crime scene. Those familiar with the Commission’s operations know that EFCC personnel do not use tear gas during sting operation. The officers that carried out the arrests neither came to the scene of crime with canister of tear gas nor whips to inflict bodily injuries on suspects.

It is also important to state that no damage was done to the CCTV facility at the scene of the arrest. The device was removed by a staff of the Club at the instance of operatives of the Commission to preserve the footages for further analysis of the role of each of the arrested suspects in the alleged crime. Specifically, one of the arrested suspects, the manager of the Club, who confessed to the crime and directed the removal of the CCTV device for further investigative works by the Commission, is in the custody of the EFCC with the CCTV. He is assisting in the investigation of the crime.

It is needful to state, for the umpteenth time, that the Standard Operating Procedure of the EFCC foreclose the use of brute force or unprofessional conduct in the course of any operation. The EFCC is a civilised law enforcement agency with optimal respect for human dignity and the rule of law.

Meanwhile, profiling of suspects arrested at the scene of the crime has been completed. They will be prosecuted accordingly.

Dele Oyewale

Head, Media & Publicity

June 9, 2024

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