By Akeem Abas
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibadan Zonal Office, on Tuesday warned hotel owners across the country not to accommodate suspected internet fraudsters in their facilities.
Its Spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, gave the warning in a statement in Ibadan, following the arrest of 56 suspected internet fraudsters in Abeokuta.
A said that the suspects were apprehended in their hideouts, which happened to be popular hotels in Abeokuta.
He said, “the operation was carried out based on verified intelligence backed by weeks of surveillance.”
According to him, the operation was earlier frustrated by the hotel owners, who employed various antics, including shutting down of power supply, to enable some of the suspects to escape arrest.
“Despite 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 some sections of the media.
“The action of the hoteliers amounts to deliberate sabotage and obstruction of law enforcement officers, an offence punishable under Section 38 (2) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004,” Uwujaren said.
The anti-graft agency spokesperson said the commission had observed worrying pattern of cold complicity by some hoteliers.
He said the hoteliers appeared to be hands-in-gloves with suspected fraudsters by housing them over long spells and making internet facilities available to them.
“Argument made in certain quarters that the hoteliers have no means of determining who a fraudster is before allowing them to lodge in their facilities runs counter to the law.
“Section 3 of the Advance Fee Fraud And Other Related Offences Act, 2006 provides for a prison term of five to 15 years without option of fine for persons who allowed his premises to be used for any offence,” Uwujaren said.
He said the commission
would not tolerate situations where hotel owners or managers permit fraudsters to use their facilities and shield them from arrest by law enforcement.
“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,” he said.
The EFCC spokesperson said that 10 exotic cars, dozens of mobile phones, laptops and several incriminating documents were recovered from the suspected fraudsters arrested in Abeokuta.
He said the suspects would be arraigned as soon as investigations were concluded.