How EFCC Tarnished Our Reputations — Youths Wrongly Arrested At School Reunion, Paraded As Internet Fraudsters

How EFCC Tarnished Our Reputations — Youths Wrongly Arrested At School Reunion, Paraded As Internet Fraudsters

According to a report by SaharaReporters, two young men, Audu Japheth and Kabson Beloved Ziryi, who were picked up by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Kaduna, have lamented that the anti-graft agency has tarnished their reputations.

SaharaReporters learnt that the duo was wrongly arrested at a school reunion on Saturday and released on Wednesday evening.

Speaking with SaharaReporters on Thursday, Japheth and Beloved lamented that their names are now on the social media as offenders despite their innocence.

Beloved added that he needs more explanation as to why a case file was opened for them at the EFCC office even though nothing incriminating was found with them or on their mobile phones.

He complained that the officers did not allow them to read through the files properly to know what charges were filed against them.

Japheth said, “We were released on Wednesday night but we will have to go back there next week to sign a paper; I don’t know the reason for this. The officers found nothing incriminating on our phones and they returned them to us but the problem now is, our records are with them, they opened a file for us, despite our innocence. At first, they assured us that they will not post anything and that they will not open any file for us but when we came out, we started seeing our names online as having committed a crime we know nothing about.

“What they have done is a very bad and a dent on our image; it can destroy our future. That is my problem. Aside from my studentship, I also work as a tailor, I am not an internet fraudster.”

Beloved said, “My main problem is that since they know that we are innocent, why will they open a case file for us? Not only that, in the box for offence, they wrote ‘internet fraud’. That’s my problem. I am not guilty of anything but they decided to give me an offence by force. I don’t understand, is it done that way? Is it right? Is it wrong? We were asked to come next Wednesday, we don’t know why but if we refuse to go, there is a fine to be paid by our surety, that is, the person who stood in place of the bail.

“My uncle stood as surety for me and Japheth’s brother stood as surety for him and if we fail to report at the EFCC office on the said date, the sureties will be fined the sum of N2 million. When they gave the file, they didn’t even want us to read it, they just wanted us to sign and that is very wrong. How will they place a document in front of someone and not even give them a chance to read and understand before signing? They just ask you to sign and that is very wrong and bad.

“I run a laundry business and I also work as a DJ, I don’t have a mother neither do I have a father.”

Some friends of Beloved and Japheth confirmed to SaharaReporters that the young men were at a secondary school reunion held at NordHaus Hotel in the Karji area of Kaduna State on Saturday when they were picked up.

One of them explained that the EFCC officials arrived at the hotel a few minutes past 7 pm and requested to go through the phones of everyone present.

However, Japheth and Beloved’s phones were switched off, hence were arrested by the officers.

He stated that all pleas by others for the officers to make use of a power bank to charge the phones of the young men fell on deaf ears as the officers were bent on arresting the duo.

A friend of one of the victims told SaharaReporters, “We were having a secondary school reunion at NordHaus Hotel located in Karji Kaduna State when the EFCC came around past 7 pm with guns, we didn’t initially know they were EFCC officials but some police officers were with them. They approached us casually without any introduction and asked that we unlock our phones.

”It was after they have molested us that they later told us who they are because some of us where challenging them that they don’t have any right to collect our phones and they don’t even have any warrant. They even slapped me along with other guys and a lady.

“They checked our phones but when it was the turn of these guys, their phones were switched off so the officers said they had to go with them. We pleaded seriously that they should use a power bank to power the phone batteries and check whatever they wanted to check there but they refused.

“One of them is Audu Japheth, a student of Kaduna State University, Faculty of Arts, Department Of English and Drama. He works as a tailor to feed and pay his fees. He is not an internet fraudster. The EFCC has posted on their Facebook page that they picked internet fraudsters and Japheth and Beloved are part of those in the picture. They are not fraudsters.”

Another friend said, “We were at the reunion and we were already about leaving, it was past 7 and I was at the counter paying for what we consumed. There were other people at the lounge but we were at a table for our reunion, they arrested two of them from our reunion. One of them was a classmate of mine in secondary school and the other was his friend. They are in the same school.

“For my friend, they tried to access his phone but at that moment, the phone went off and we pleaded with them to use a power bank so they could charge the phone and check but they refused. They left with the two of them instead. Those of us who came there for the reunion, we were about 20 or so but there were other people behind where we sat, they invaded everywhere, searched everybody there except one man that was sitting with two girls. Those were the people they didn’t search.

“We were about going when the officers came. Some people had already even left but the officers picked them up, brought them back and searched everyone.”

SaharaReporters observed that the EFCC in a post on its Facebook page says it arrested 10 internet fraudsters, the pictures shared included those of Japheth and Beloved.

The EFCC post reads, “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Kaduna Zonal Command, have arrested 10 persons for alleged Internet-related fraud

“The suspects are Ezenwa Peter, Fahad Ahmad, Alyassau Mohammed, Nehemia Joel, Enoch Simon, Kabson Ziryi Beloved, Japheth Audu, Olatunji Abimbola, Innocent Arzuka and David Samuel.

“They were arrested at a hotel along Karji Expressway, Kaduna following intelligence on their alleged internet fraud activities.

“Investigation revealed that the suspects specialize in love/marriage scams, identity theft, and impersonation as they created fictitious social media accounts to defraud innocent victims. Some of them are said to be pickers or receivers of proceeds of fraudulent acts.

“The suspect will be arraigned in court at the conclusion of the investigation.”

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