The parents of the 69 students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) arrested and subsequently released by the operatives of the Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged involvement in internet fraud, have accused and condemned the manner the commission carried out the operation without carrying out due diligence on the matter before effecting the arrest of the students in the dead of the night.
Mr Yinka Junaid spoke on behalf of the affected parents at a press conference in Lagos on Friday (yesterday) on what the parents titled “wrongful invasion of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) students’ hostel, arrest of students and publication of innocent students names in the media by the EFCC”, wondered why EFCC didn’t carry out thorough investigations and ensure that the students have cases to answer before arresting them in the night and published their names for the world to see as criminals.
Among other demands, the parents want the commission to employ the same vigour with which it published the names of their children as criminals and declared them innocent as well as put rebuttals in all media it uses and clear the names of the innocent students who had been labelled criminals without finding them guilty. “They must come out and apologise that they made a mistake by arresting the students in the first instance”.
“We are truly disturbed by the way and manner the operation was carried out in flagrant violation of the fundamental human rights of the students. Many of our children even we parents are still going through trauma. We demand a public apology in media outlets both traditional and online. This should be done in all media where the names of our children have been given as criminals. If this is not done, it may count against them in the future. We will not want our children to suffer in future for the offence they did not commit”.
The parents pointed out that they were aware that 11 of the affected students had been taken to court, they, however, expressed surprise that some of the students were made to be going to Ibadan from Ile-Ife, a distance of close to 100 kilometres to report at EFCC office. This, the parents said, is dangerous considering the bad state of the road.
They thereby called on the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federation Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, to ensure that thorough investigation is carried out and justice is done on even the 11 students that were said to have been profiled and their cases are ongoing in court.
The parents solicit the assistance of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and other organisations as well as well-meaning Nigerians to stand in solidarity with them to ensure that justice is done. As Mr Junaid puts it, “Injustice for one is injustice for everyone”.
The parents also used the occasion to demand from the government the need to train and retrain its law enforcement officers to be able to perform their duties how they should be.
It would be recalled that 69 students of the university were said to have been arrested on Wednesday, November 01, 2023, at Oduduwa Estate area of Ile-Ife in Osun State by EFCC following what the Commission said to be actionable intelligence on their alleged involvement in fraudulent internet-related activities.
EFCC gave the full names of the 69 OAU students arrested earlier by its operatives as Dankuwo Eniola Erioluwa, Mustapha Monsuru Oluwanisola, Adeyeye Timilehin Ebenezer, Toromade Hammed Adedeji, Busari Abdulazeez Ayodeji, Adeleye Olumuyiwa Emmanuel, Oluwasakin Moyosore Favour, Olubini Pere Michael, Oluwadara Emmanuel Benny, Gbadamosi Okikola Omotola, Okusipe Tobiloba Paul, Nnekwelugo Enaemeka, Aghwaritoma Wisdom, Adesina Gbolahan Khalid and Micheal Olugoke Oluwaseun.
Others are: Obafemi Joshua Mayowa, Eronmonsele Anthony Igberaese, Salau Oluwawumi, Jaiyeola Yinka Temitope, Ajayi Ayodeji Olanrenwaju, Oguntade Oluwabukunmi David, Abdulmumini Abdulsamad, Tolulope Oduola Folaranmi, Kayode Abdulraheem Ajuwon, Akinyemi Oluwagbenro Aduragbemi, Ayodeji Olumose Adedeji, Alawode Femi Segun, Junaid Hafiz Adeyinka, Akolade Oladele Sunday, Oyeniyi Banji Andrew, Oladusu Lanrinde Morakinyo, Ojo John Ifeoluwa, Akwuaka Tochukwu Blaise and Ogunleye Daniel Ayobami and Adebowale Omodesire Diekola.
The rest are: Arekemase Olayinka Ridwan, Ajigbolamu Ayomide Ademola, Asegun David Damola, Adibe Elvis Ebubechukwu, Ohakanu Chidubem, Adeoye Mayowa Irejah, Adesokan Charles Adekunle, Olorunfemi Isaac Oladimeji, Odeyemi Femi Victor, Alimi Ajibola Akorede, Okeke Ifaenyi Francis, Fawehinmi Ayomide Simeon, Soniola Olumide Elijah, Yahaya Isah Salihu, Daramola Junia Olamide, Agbabikaka Mojuolaoluwa and Kingsley Ejike Nweake.
Others are: Camara Abdullahi, Aminu Kehinde, Bayo Adegoke Iyanuoluwa, Alao Kolawale Oluwaseun, Oloruntoba Oluwatosin Adeniyi, Idowu Philip Oluwaseun, Maiye Daniel Olasile, Oyelami Peter OLuwaseyi, Emmanuel Nsochukwu, Komolafe Tosin, Praise Izuagie, Umehidi Obinna, Olujulo Lucas Ifeoluwa, Omejeh Stanley, Latilo Tolu, Oluwaseun Akinrelere and Great Onufomah.
The EFCC on Monday, November 6, 2023, arraigned 11 students of Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, before Justice Nathaniel Ayo-Emmanuel of the Federal High Court, Osogbo, Osun State for their alleged involvement in internet fraud.
The defendants were arraigned on different counts of charges, ranging from one to six, as preferred against them by the EFCC.
They are Perekebena Olombeni Micah, Nnekwelugo Nnaemeka, Moyosore Favour Oluwasakin, Aghwaritoma Wisdom Obaro, Daniel Olashile Maiye, Gbolahan Khalid Adesina, Yinka Temitope Jayeola, Olumuyiwa Emmanuel Adeleye, Abiola Emmanuel Oluwadare, Busari Abdulazeez Ayodeji and Okesipe Tobiloba Paul.
Nine of the defendants were arraigned on one -count charge each, while the remaining two: Micah and Boar had six count- charges filed against each of them. One of the counts reads: “That you, Perekebena Olombeni Micah sometime in 2023 in Osogbo, Osun State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court fraudulently impersonated the name – Pies through your Whatsapp account phone number +1(414)367-9473 by claiming that you are an American Female in love with your victims in the United States of America with intent to gain advantage for yourself and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22 (2) (b) (i) and punishable under Section 22 (2) (b) of the Cyber Crimes (Prohibition, Prevention etc.) Act, 2015.”
Another count reads, “That you, Aghwaritoma Wisdom Obaro on or about 1st November 2023 at Ile-Ife, Osun State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, fraudulently impersonated by representing yourself to be a white man by name Alex Stephens from United States of America to one Megan Johnson, through your Google Chat and your email address ([email protected]) with intent to gain advantage for yourself and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22 (2) (b) (i) and punishable under Section 22 (2) (b) of the Cyber Crimes (Prohibition, Prevention etc.) Act, 2015.”
Upon their arraignments, they all pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when they were read to them.
Consequently, prosecution counsel, Oluwatoyin Owodunni prayed the court for trial dates and the remand of the defendants at a Correctional Centre.
In response, defence counsels to Ayodeji, Adesina, Oluwasakin, Micah, Adeleye and Okesipe informed the court of “motions for bail applications” filed on behalf of their clients which have been served on the prosecution, therefore urging the court to admit the six defendants to bail in the most liberal terms.
Justice Ayo-Emmanuel, having listened to the prayers of both parties, admitted Ayodeji, Adesina, Oluwasakin, Micah, Adeleye and Okesipe to bail.
Ayodeji, Adesina, Oluwasakin, Adeleye and Okesipe were admitted to bail in the sum of N2,000,000 (Two Million Naira only) each. At the same time, Micah was granted bail in the sum of N3,000,000 (Three Million Naira only).
Other bail conditions are: two sureties in like sum, first surety must be the defendant’s father or mother, second surety must be a relative, sibling, clergy or civil servant with the Osun State Government; the sureties must depose to an affidavit of means and both residential and office addresses of the sureties, as well as their statuses must be provided and verified by the court registrar.
The judge adjourned the matters to November 29 and December 12, 2023, respectively for commencement of trial and remanded the defendants at the Ilesha Correctional Centre, Osun State pending the perfection of their bail conditions.