EFCC’s Nighttime Arrest of 69 OAU Students Leads to Swift Release and Ban on Sting Operations


A total of 69 OAU students were arrested by the EFCC on Wednesday, 1st of November, 2023 but the students were released in Less than 12 hours, thanks to the full support of Nigerians especially the tech communities, the Student Union of Government (SUG) in OAU and different student bodies in the country.

Info: EFCC says the students are 69 but the OAU’s student union president, Abass Ojo (LordFem) confirmed to the News Agency of Nigeria that the students were not 69 but 72 which includes girls and freshers too.

The Economic Financial Crime Commission, EFCC is a Nigerian government agency empowered to investigate all financial crimes in Nigeria which includes fraud and any kind of scam.

Although EFCC is an important agency in the country, they’ve tried so hard to lose the support of average Nigerians simply because they either turn blind eyes to the actual ‘culprits’ and make the innocents look like the culprits OR they sometimes go too far in performing their duties.

The Unjustly Arrest by EFCC at Oduduwa Estate, Ile-Ife

The recent issue that happened to the 69 students of Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU in Ile-Ife, Osun State Nigeria proved the two reasons right.

According to the report on The PUNCH, the Zonal Command of the agency in Ibadan stormed Finetouch and Superb hostels in Oduduwa Estate, Ile-Ife in Osun state to arrest the students between 1:40 am and 4:00 am and drove them to Ibadan in Oyo state.

EFCC Arrested 69 OAU Students
The arrested OAU students

Immediately, the news has gone viral on social media (Twitter) and different WhatsApp groups. The common question Nigerians were asking is what’s the offense of these 69 students that they deserved to be unjustly arrested?

The subtle response from the EFCC as posted on their official Facebook page is that the ‘69’ OAU Students are suspected “internet fraudsters in Ile-Ife”.

And that begs the question: 

What qualifies someone as a suspected internet fraudster in Nigeria?

You are a suspected internet fraudster in Nigeria when you are young and you can afford ‘expensive’ things like an iPhone, a car, a laptop or you have dreadlocks. This is why these 69 students were shipped in the middle of the night like commodities from one state to another.

Not trying to be cynical, but how is it possible and logical that all the students living in a hostel are internet fraudsters? If EFCC had arrested a few selected students from the two hostels maybe there Nigerians could have been silent on the issue to allow an ‘investigation’ to vindicate the arrested students.

Some of the students arrested are freelance software developers while some have a ‘legit’ business that foots their bills. In fact, one of the students is Kolawole Alao who was identified by a Facebook user, and checking Kolawole Alao’s profile speaks to everything totally different from an internet scam.

Before his ‘unjustly’ arrest, Kolawole Alao, a Product and Industrial designer (who freelance on Upwork and Fiverr), who is also studying Mechanical Engineering had won a competition with this team at the University project exhibition for the Digital Nigeria Day (DND), hosted by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, Osun state on 23rd & 24th of October, 2023!

Many of the arrested students are intellectual, smart, and hardworking students but instead of being given an accolade, they were dubbed internet fraudsters.

It is worth noting that OAU is one of the Universities in Africa with the largest tech communities. In fact, OAU produces the largest number of successful startup tech founders in West Africa.

The Release of the Arrested 69 OAU Students

Immediately after the news of the arrest went out, the student bodies in OAU and some students journeyed down to Ibadan to stand with their fellow students, protesting for their immediate release at the EFCC zonal command office in Ibadan.

While that was happening, Nigerians took to social media (TWITTER and Facebook) to call the attention of everyone to what was happening, with the trending hashtag #FreeOAUstudents tagging prominent people and demanding that the students be released immediately.

EFCC Arrested 69 OAU Students
OAU students protesting at EFCC’s Zonal Office

A few of the powerful people who voice their concern in response to what Nigerians want is the Governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke said he’s working with the school authorities on their release. The Minister of Communication, Dr. Bosun Tijani also said he’s working towards the same effect with some people too.

With the strong protest on social media, the EFCC had no option but to start releasing the students. The People Gazette reported that EFCC released 58 of the students shortly after 9 p.m. on the same day and 11 others to be released thereafter.

EFCC Bans Sting Operations at Night

The public pressure to release the unjustly arrested 69 OAU students not only yielded good results in having the students released, but it also marked a huge milestone in the history of the Anti-graft Agency.

In reaction to the arrest, the chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ola Olukayode immediately sent out a directive on Wednesday (November 1, 2023) in Abuja that sting operations at Night to be stopped in all the EFCC’s command in the country, not just in Ibadan or Ile-Ife.

While we are waiting for the release of other students, Nigerians have once again shown the power of solidarity.

Concluding Summary

The recent incident involving the arrest and subsequent release of 69 students from Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, in Ile-Ife, Osun State, sheds light on the power of public pressure and solidarity in Nigeria. The swift response from student bodies, concerned citizens, and influential figures on social media, under the hashtag #FreeOAUstudents, played a pivotal role in securing the students’ freedom.

This episode not only brought to the forefront the challenges surrounding the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) but also led to a significant development. The chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ola Olukayode, issued a directive to stop nighttime sting operations in all EFCC commands across the country, acknowledging the need to address concerns and uphold justice.

The incident underscores the importance of transparency, accountability, and the engagement of various stakeholders in shaping the actions of law enforcement agencies. As Nigeria moves forward, it is imperative that such incidents lead to constructive dialogue, policy improvements, and an environment where citizens and authorities can work together for the common goal of a just and secure society. In doing so, the nation can ensure that the rights and dignity of all its citizens are protected.

Stephen Gbolagade
Stephen Gbolagadehttps://www.stephengade.com/
Stephen is a Frontend engineer, technical writer, owner and part-time blogger here at Gbolamedia, incoming data scientist, an enthusiastic cynophilist, and a curious introvert. Stephen is currently available for full-time, part-time or contract-base role. Contact him here: on WhatsApp or check him on Linkedin


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