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Ondo: Club Owners Accuse EFCC Of Right Abuse During Night Raids

Owners of nightclubs in Akure, the Ondo State capital, have accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of forcefully removing surveillance recordings at their facilities during sting operations on clubbers.

The nightclub owners said they would take legal action against the commission over the forceful invasion of their premises.

Reports indicate that armed EFCC operatives raided Alba Royale Club and Signatures Club in Akure over the weekend, targeting clubbers. Among those arrested were a groom and his friends who were at one of the clubs for a bachelor’s eve. Mobile phones, laptops and vehicles belonging to the arrested individuals were also confiscated.

The EFCC said its operatives, acting on intelligence reports, raided the two nightclubs to arrest 127 persons accused of being internet fraudsters allegedly holding “Yahoo Parties” in the state.

Daily Trust reports that the action of the EFCC led to street protests in the state, with residents, particularly the youth, demanding justice for those arrested and molested during the raid.

But the EFCC in a statement issued immediately, denied any wrongdoing.

The anti-graft agency said its operation at the two clubs in Akure during the weekend was in line with the established ground norm and was devoid of any incident as portrayed by the club owners.

Addressing journalists on Monday in Akure, the club owners described the invasion as a complete violation of their rights and an act of injustice.

Ayo Alabi, the chairman/chief executive officer of Alba Royale Hotel, alleged that EFCC operatives destroyed the CCTV cameras and system in the nightclub.

“About 1:30am, my phone rang and it was one of my security men saying it appeared that robbers had invaded the hotel. I called the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in this zone to complain. One of my staff sneaked out and reported that they were EFCC officials. I switched on the CCTV camera on my phone and began to watch their activities, but after an hour, the CCTV camera went off. All the guests were seriously dealt with. They took away our CCTV engine; we have evidence of their action,” he said.

Ayo Abass-Akinwande, representing Signature Club, reported significant damage to their premises and a huge loss during the raid.

“The EFCC operatives, identified by their red jackets and guns, numbered over 40. They rounded everyone up, instructed them to lie on the floor and used snooker sticks to beat people. Both male and female customers were treated mercilessly. Teargas was released in the club. Our staff used first aid materials to rescue some customers who had medical emergencies. The CCTV engine room was completely turned upside down and the CCTV engine was taken away,” he alleged.

Abayomi Ajepe, the chairman of the Ondo State Lounge and Club Owners Association (OSLACOA), sympathised with his members and said the raid had a negative impact on the hospitality business in the state.

“The cameras, phones, CCTVs, along with about 127 people, were taken. Since the incident, no business has resumed. We are consulting our lawyers to take legal action on the issue,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Akure branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has demanded a thorough probe into what it described as “unlawful, unprofessional and barbaric invasion of the clubs by the EFCC.”

Olabanjo Ayenakin, the chairman of the NBA, in a letter addressed to the EFCC chairman, called for a probe into the manner the officials invaded the two nightclubs, describing the operation as highly indecent and a flagrant violation of the fundamental rights of those involved. The association also called for compensation for those affected by the act.

In a statement by its spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, the EFCC said its operatives only executed a “classical sting operation” at the two clubs simultaneously based on credible intelligence, leading to the arrest of those in custody.

“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. The officers that carried out the arrests neither came to the scene of crime with canister of teargas nor whips, to inflict bodily injuries on suspects,” the statement read in part.

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