The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has explained why it arrested and detained four Nigerian Air Force (NAF) officials.
In a statement titled Facts of the Face-off Between EFCC and NAF Officers in Kaduna, the anti-graft agency revealed that the military officials were arrested and kept behind bars after they attempted to forcefully release suspected internet fraudsters.
The EFCC further explained that dialogue on the release broke down on Friday after some unruly NAF officials stormed the anti-graft agency office to release the military men in detention forcefully.
“Operatives of the Kaduna Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday, November 13, 2023, arrested five suspects at a residential Inn and Disney Chicken Eatery, Barnawa, Kaduna, following credible intelligence about their alleged internet-related fraud activities. The suspected fraudsters, Favour Itung, Rachael Ande, Suleiman Haruna, Abubakar Ismaila and Solomon Olobatoke, were arrested without incident,” the statement read.
“However, after the sting operation, six military personnel who witnessed the operation at Disney Chicken Eatery stormed the Kaduna Command and attempted to forcibly release the arrested fraud suspects. They were subdued and detained over the security breach. The intruders are four Air Force personnel: Lawal Abdullahi, Chukwuma Chidi Christian, Alfa Suleiman and Emmanuel Ekwozor, and two students of Nigerian Air Force Institute of Technology, AFIT: Chidera Anuba and Joseph Tokula. While in detention, there was inter-agency communication and discussions by the leadership of the EFCC and the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, to resolve the issues.
Unfortunately, dialogue on the release of the combative Air Force personnel broke down on Friday, November 17, 2023, when some unruly NAF Officers stormed the Kaduna Command in a commando-style to forcefully release their detained colleagues. The EFCC exercised restraint in the face of the provocation and flagrant abuse of power. The Commission continued to engage with the leadership of the Nigeria Air Force and released the officers to the NAF Provost after they had been duly profiled. The EFCC wishes to assure the public that it will continue to carry out its statutory mandate of tackling all cases of economic and financial crimes, without let or hindrance.”
It was reported earlier that the Kaduna State chapter of the nation’s anti-graft agency apprehended one army officer and seven NAF. The EFCC then detained the suspects for further investigation and potential prosecution after alleging their involvement in a recent case of internet-related fraud.’
However, a dramatic turn of events occurred on Friday morning when armed NAF soldiers stormed the EFCC office in the state capital. Their objective was to secure the release of their detained colleagues.
Arriving in five Hilux patrol vans at around 10 am, the soldiers surrounded the main gate of the commission, effectively blocking entry and exit for EFCC officials.
The confrontation led to a heated exchange between the Air Force personnel and EFCC security operatives. Both parties engaged in a shouting match and even threatened each other with violence.