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‘Stop Operating Like Armed Robbers’: Group Vows To Hold Planned Protest Despite EFCC Warning

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A group of activists that plan to hold a nationwide protest to call for the reforms of the investigative tactics and modus operandi of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has vowed to hold the planned protest on Friday despite a strong warning issued by the agency.

The group which organises under the #ReformEFCC slogan spoke through one of its organisers, the investigative journalism platform @PIDOMNIGERIA (99% Oppressed).

A tweet posted on the group’s platform on Wednesday said, “July 5th Nationwide peaceful protest countdown. We are not criminals. But concerned Nigerians calling for reform in your operations.

“Respect our fundamental human rights. Be Professional in your operations. Stop operating like armed robbers at night. Stop the stereotyping of young Nigerians.

“Stop invading people’s homes, and raiding innocent people. Stop destroying people’s properties in the name of sting operations.

“Do your homework investigation before going out for arrest. Not these raiding here and there of innocent people. Stop assaulting Nigerians. Go after corrupt politicians and show us results. We will protest. It’s our right. But we will do it peacefully.”

The EFCC, through the Head of its Media & Publicity, Dele Oyewale, had issued a statement on Wednesday calling the planned protest an ‘instigation’ against the agency.

The release titled, “Efcc warns promoters of planned protest” says, “In the last couple of days, the group has been actively campaigning in the social media, recruiting impressionable young Nigerians, including students to take up “arms” against the EFCC.

“This insidious campaign is being promoted as resistance to the operational activities of the Commission especially in respect of the enforcement of the laws dealing with cybercrimes.

“The Commission, while not averse to protests by citizens, is alarmed by  emerging evidence that  suggests a grand design by corrupt elements under investigation or prosecution by the Commission to exploit the so-called protest to orchestrate a national uprising that may threaten the peace and security of our dear nation.”

The agency warned that it would not tolerate any breakdown of law and order anywhere in the country, especially, around its office locations across Nigeria. EFCC.

The agency said, “The Commission, however, appeals to parents, guardians and heads of tertiary institutions to take responsibility in ensuring that their wards are not recruited to be used as cannon fodder in a proxy war against the Commission by vested corrupt interests.

“The war being waged by the Commission against corruption and cybercrime is to protect the future of the youth of this country. That future is imperilled if Nigeria degenerates further in global reckoning as a den of fraudsters.”

The organisers of the protest plan what they describe as a peaceful protest nationwide protest at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja, and all zonal commands nationwide.

Explaining the rationale behind the protest, one of the organisers said, “They should respect the fundamental and constitutional rights of all Nigerians, especially youths.

“They should stop assaulting innocent Nigerians. Invading homes, hotels and nightclubs like armed robbers in the middle of the night, destroying and stealing properties. (A couple who did their wedding, and were enjoying their honeymoon in a hotel in another state, outside from where they did their wedding.

“EFCC operatives invaded the hotel to raid. They broke into all the rooms, including where the couple were lodged while they were both naked. They carried the husband for no reason, joined him amongst others they arrested in the hotel, and tagged him a suspected internet fraudster. He ended up in detention)

“EFCC should be more professional in their fight against cybercrimes and other forms of criminalities, by singling out their suspects, after due diligence and proper investigation, so they can go after them with watertight evidence and court order, without assaulting innocent people, or endangering anyone, just like the FBI operates.

“A young man flew into Nigeria from the US. He wanted to catch a local flight to his final destination, but the weather became bad with so many flight cancellations. His flight was rescheduled for the next day, so he opted to lodge in aa hotel in town, so he could fly the next day. Unfortunately for him, EFCC invaded that hotel like armed robbers in the night, broke into all the rooms, arrested everyone, and left with them.

“The young man was tagged a suspected internet fraudster and was paraded in their usual mugshot, with them facing back. He ended up in detention, he missed his flight, and lost so many of the things he travelled with back to Nigeria)

“That is why we are calling for the reform of EFCC, because anyone could be a victim of their unlawful arrest and flagrant abuse of human right.”

Reacting to the EFCC statement, a human rights lawyer, Festus Ogun said, “The EFCC should bury its horrible head in shame. Protest is a fundamental right guaranteed under Sections 39, 40 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution.”

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