Dade Mighty and his friends played games and threw banters deep into the night in his hostel room at Kwara State University in February 2024. Suddenly, the door opened violently, making a loud sound like. A group of uniformed men broke into their room without a knock at the door. 

Armed to the teeth, they marched the students into a ship bound for distant shores. The armed men, whom they later identified as officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) paraded them as internet fraudsters — albeit without proper investigation — and then released them after their innocence was confirmed.

Like Dade and his buddies, several students have been caught during such uneventful sting raids by supposed anti-graft agents on a sting raid.

The unexpected invasion of the EFCC officials on dormitories and other places occupied by youths has been described as “sting raids”. The anti-graft agents are often on the trail of internet fraudsters, colloquially known as  “Yahoo boys”, using the sting raid strategy.

However, this method of arrest was banned in November last year after the invasion of the Obafemi Awolowo University campus during a midnight raid, arresting 69 students. The ban on the operation means subsequent sting raids are considered illegal, but the officials continued the menace, despite public outrage over the outlawed method of arrests which usually results in student mishandling and molestation.

On February 14, 2024, the anti-grant agents invaded student lodges at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) at night. During the raid, the operatives allegedly destroyed properties, molested a female student and inflicted injuries on other students.

A similar thing happened in the same month, around 3 a.m., when the EFCC raided students’ dormitories at the Kwara State University, (KWASU). According to reports, the operation saw the arrest of over 45 students, among whom were declared innocent and eventually released. Enraged over the night raid, the university students staged a protest, which would turn violent.

Rodiat Ojomu, a 200-level student of the institution said she received the sad news that one of her classmates sustained threatening injuries during the protest. Unfortunately, the EFCC’s night raid aggravated an existing insecurity situation on the campus.

“The series of events during that period is nothing to write home about,” Abigail, a 300-level biochemistry student, told the Liberalist, noting that everyone slept with their eyes open during the period. 

“A week before the raid, there was news of the murder of a student, which kept everyone on their toes. Following the event, kidnapping became a daily threat. Amidst the whole unrest, a sting raid was the least needed in Malete because some of us were just recovering from the trauma of the occurrence of the previous week,” she groaned.

The murder of the student, whose name was not revealed, was believed to have prompted the midnight operation. The indiscriminate arrests by EFCC threatened students’ safety and caused more trouble for the university community. Unfortunately, the demonstration that followed the arrest turned sour.

With a dense atmosphere that prompted a series of injuries, growling red flames, the exchange of bullets, and the emission of tear gas, many students had to deal with ensuing trauma.

Akinlabu Precious, a 300-level student from the Department of Biochemistry, told The Liberalist that she narrowly escaped stray bullets during the protest.

“Amidst the din and gunshots just outside our hostel gate, my roommates and I almost fainted because we were on our way out of the room to fetch water in our compound. That moment can’t be forgotten so easily. I can still recall the sound of the gunshots; sometimes, it feels like it happened right in my head,” she recounted.

Considering the adverse effect the sting raids have had on student residents all over the country, the National Association of Nigerian Students, Ekiti chapter, advised that the anti-graft agency employ primitive measures in subsequent raids.

In a statement, the student body urged the anti-graft agency to “reconsider its approach and employ a more judicious and respectful method in its investigative process.”

“While recognizing the importance of combating corruption and financial crimes, law enforcement agencies need to exercise restraint and professionalism, particularly when dealing with students who are still in the process of pursuing their education,” the association stated.

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