On Wednesday, November 1, Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) agents arrested some students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Ile-Ife, Osun State, during an off-campus midnight raid. 

Here’s all we know about the situation that’s already trending under the hashtag #FreeOAUStudents.

What happened?

On Wednesday, November 1, some students of OAU took to X (formerly Twitter) to notify the public about a midnight raid by EFCC officials. According to the accounts, the officials stormed Fine Touch and Superb Hostels in Oduduwa Estate, Ile-Ife, at midnight. The students reportedly thought they were kidnappers at first. 

“When people were asleep, EFCC raided Fine Touch Hostel in Oduduwa, arrested over 40 male students and drove their cars away! What type of stupid oppression is this?” one X user tweeted.

Some videos shared on social media showed officers ordering students into their pickup vans and physically assaulting them to force cooperation.

WhatsApp screenshots from fellow students raising alarm over the situation also surfaced online.

https://twitter.com/sonayanajose/status/1719572171469541804?s=46&t=gV-1mmgH3NC_RQhcgp1x3w

The students were taken to the Ibadan office of the anti-graft agency, and their properties were confiscated.

OAU’s student union condemns arrest

Shortly after the incident, the OAU students’ union issued a statement on X, confirming and condemning the unlawful arrest of students. 

“We strongly condemn the recent unjust arrest and harassment of our fellow students by members of the EFCC @officialEFCC in the odd hours of today, Nov 1st, 2023. This action is unacceptable and goes against the principles of justice and due process.”

The union noted its support for the aggrieved students and called on authorities to carry out thorough investigation. 

OAU students begin #FreeOAUStudents protest

Some videos circulating on social media indicate that students of the institution have mobilised and visited the EFCC’s office in Ibadan, demanding the release of their colleagues. The #FreeOAUStudents hashtag is also trending on X.

Has EFCC responded?

A spokesperson of the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, confirmed the arrest of 69 “internet fraud suspects”. He said the anti-graft agency’s Ibadan zonal office acted on intelligence that the OAU students were involved in internet crime.  

According to him, items recovered from the students include 190 mobile phones, 40 laptops and cars, among others. Oyewale said the students will be charged to court.

“The suspects have made useful statements to the EFCC and will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.”

What about the university’s management?

OAU’s PRO, Abiodun Olanrewaju, said the school management is still investigating to determine how many of the arrested individuals are their students.

“We want to be sure that our students are not unduly harassed or intimidated nor abused. The management has mandated us to go to Ibadan and find out because the welfare of students is important to us.

“We want to go and see by ourselves so that we can come back and give the management necessary feedback. We are just going there now. It is not only our students that are outside Ife, so we wouldn’t want a situation where people will say all those who were arrested are our students whereas maybe some of them are not our students. We want to know who we want to fight for, who we want to defend and protect.”

This is a developing story.

You’ll have your fill of grilled, peppered or fried meat and many more at Zikoko’s meat festival on November 11. Have you bought your Burning Ram ticket? You can do that real quick here.

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