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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has insisted that its operatives demonstrated professionalism in the recent sting operation carried out at hotels in Abeokuta area of Ogun state.
The EFCC Head of Media & Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren in a statement said the the operation carried out in Abeokuta was based on verified intelligence backed by weeks of surveillance.
PLATFORM TIMES had reported that the EFCC operatives in early hours of Monday invaded three hotels including government-owned hotel ,MITRO residences annex in Abeokuta and whisked away 56 suspected fraudsters .
Uwujaren in a statement however said the hoteliers in the state nearly frustrated the operation by employing various antics to restrict EFCC operatives from gaining access to the rooms.
He accused the hoteliers of allegedly obstructing law enforcement officers from carrying out their ‘legitimate duties’.
He added, “the action of the hoteliers amounts to deliberate sabotage and obstruction of law enforcement officers, an offence punishable by Section 38 (2) (b) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004.”
The EFCC spokesperson however warned hotel owners across the country to be wary of allowing internet fraudsters to congregate or hibernate around their facilities.
He noted that the commission will not tolerate situations where hotel owners frustrate the arrest of fraudsters in their premises.
He further said, “the Commission has observed a worrying pattern of cold complicity by hospitality entrepreneurs who appear to be hands-in-gloves with suspected fraudsters by housing them over long spells and making internet facilities available to them.
“While the argument is being made in certain quarters that hoteliers as business people have no means of determining who a fraudster is before allowing them to lodge in their facilities that position runs counter to the law.
“Section 3 of the Advance Fee Fraud And Other Related Offences Act, 2006 provides for a prison term of between five and 15 years without option of fine for any person who permits his premises to be used for any offence under the Act.
“EFCC will therefore not tolerate situations where hotel owners or managers not only permit fraudsters to use their facilities but also deliberately shield them from arrest by frustrating law enforcement on such premises.
“If the hoteliers are not enablers of the alleged crimes, as some have demonstrated by offering information to the Commission, they are under obligation to cooperate with law enforcement officers carrying out their lawful duties. To act otherwise would tantamount to willingly becoming enablers to fraud.”
Speaking on the arrest, the EFCC spokesperson disclosed that 53 suspected fraudsters were arrested.
The suspects were: Garfar Olamide Taiwo, Fadimaye Habeeb, Badmus Idris, Samuel Victor, Seun Fuad, Alli Isaac, Oyeleke Mubarak, Bolu Soetan, Koleosho Eniola, Saheed Abidemi, Olaewe Tosin, Ayedun Idowu, Oniyitan Ayomide, Akinlabi Precious, Gbadebo Sultan, Adeyemi Habeeb, Balogun Hassan, Sulaimon Ayub Damilare, Akinsola Usman,
Others were; Ajibola Femi Sodiya, Ridwan Alani, Olusesi Lanre, Eniatimo Oludare, Taiwo Opeyemi, Akindele Kabiru Johnson Hammed, Idowu Gabriel, Adekanmi Adejumo, Peter Babatunde, Okeowo Sunday, Abudu Habeeb, Sabair Rasaq, Ademuyiwa Basit, Toriola Opeyemi, Babayode Abiola, Agbaje Habeeb, Sorinola Oluwatobiloba, Abiodun Elegbede, Kayode Daniel ,Lawal Alabi, Oyewole Korede, Aberuagba Gafar, Adekunle Emmanuel, Okunade Azeez, and Ojediran Sodiq.
Uwujaren explained, “they were apprehended at their hideouts which happened to be popular hotels in the ancient city. The operation which was based on verified intelligence backed by weeks of surveillance was nearly frustrated by the hotel owners who employed various antics, including shutting down power supply, to enable some of the suspects to escape arrest.
“Despite the lack of cooperation by the hotel owners, the operatives demonstrated professionalism in ensuring that no one was hurt nor property damaged during the operations, contrary to the narrative in a section of the media.
“Nevertheless, the action of the hoteliers amounts to deliberate sabotage and obstruction of law enforcement officers, an offence punishable by Section 38 (2) (b) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004.”
Meanwhile, Uwujaren disclosed that ten exotic cars, dozens of mobile phones, laptops and several incriminating documents were recovered from the suspected fraudsters.
He added that the suspects will be arraigned in court as soon as the investigation is concluded.