A Nigerian lawyer practicing in The Gambia, Christopher E. Mene, has ra ised alarm over the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) invasion of his property, consisting of 12 three-bedroom flats and arresting 44 persons in Benin, Edo State.
He said, “I arrived in Nigeria from The Gambia on May 16, ahead of the naming of my newborn baby. On May 23, I received a call from one of the guards on my property located at number 15 on Prince Osagie Street, Igue-Iheya, Benin, informing me that about 25 men wearing EFCC jackets invaded the property at about 2am by first breaking the padlock on the small gate and that on gaining entrance, they broke down all the security doors on each flat and forcefully took all my tenants, together with all their cars, to their office.
“Later that morning, I went there to see things for myself and my security guard explained to me how they broke into each flat, beat up and brutalised the occupants, broke several doors, inflicted very severe injuries on one of the tenants until he bled profusely. Blood stains could be seen on the ground from the tenant’s flat up to the front gate and on the wall, where the tenant was reported to have rested his back, while sitting on the ground where he was dumped by the invading forces.”
Mene gave the total cost of replacing the damaged doors as N4,179, 000.00, saying the amount might be more than that when the cost of damaging was included.
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He further said, “The tenants are still in EFCC custody. Information received from some of the relatives of the tenants is that the officials are demanding that each tenant pays them N1m before their release will be considered.”
Mene further stated that after he inspected the damage to his property, he went to the police station at Ugbowo to lodge a complaint over the invasion but that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) explained to him that the police would not interfere with the work of EFCC.
But reacting, the spokesman of EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said the commission carried out a sting operation in which 44 internet fraud suspects were arrested at different locations in Benin.
He said, “The suspects have been processed, and 33 are found to be culpable of the alleged crime. I will try and confirm whether the said property at Iheya was affected by the operation.”
He further said, “However, it is important to state that contrary to the claims in the document, it is not the commission’s standard procedure to break into property except there is a willful attempt by suspects to evade arrest. The picture of gestapo-style operation with many damaged doors so gleefully painted without images and claims of bribe demand for bail are strange.
“The commission is averse to such. If truly such demands were made, the suspects should file a complaint with the Department of Internal Affairs.”