Five persons who have allegedly been impersonating operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in parts of Delta State have been arrested by the State Police Command.
The criminals reportedly extorted their victims in Delta State to the tune of N21 million, the police disclosed.
The suspects were said to be carrying out the criminal activities by hitting targets in the state from their hideouts in Asaba, Owerri (Imo State), Port-Harcourt (Rivers) and Lagos.
The Delta State Police Command spokesman, Mr Bright Edafe, a deputy superintendent of police (DSP), who confirmed the story in Asaba yesterday, gave the identities of the suspects as 29-year old Prince Allison, George Chisom Onyeweagu (29), Duke Okoro (40), Joseph Osinachi (23) and Onyocha Stanley (32).
According to the police, the persistent intimidation and defrauding of unsuspecting members of the public by these fake EFCC operatives, triggered the “END-EFCC” protest witnessed in Ughelli area of Delta State in October this year, resulting in several deaths and the torching of at least a dozen trucks.
After series of complaints, especially from young people, “alleging that EFCC operatives usually break into their houses at night, forcefully arrest them, take them away and extort huge sums of money from them”, the state police command was forced to swing into action as intelligence suggested that the so-called EFCC persons may be imposters.
THISDAY learnt that what became the last straw was a complaint from a victim on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 that “his house was stormed at night by the syndicate, that they gained entrance into the compound by scaling the fence, broke into his apartment, forcefully abducted and took him away in a white Toyota Hiace bus.
“The victim further stated that on getting to head-bridge (that is, the boundary between Delta and Anambra states), they forcefully collected his phones from him, other valuables worth N3,700,000 (three million, seven hundred thousand naira), made cash transfer of N2,500,000 (two million five hundred thousand naira) and told him that they will come for him again.
“Five other victims also reported to the Command and made statements of how they were robbed of about N15,000,000 (fifteen million naira). It became clear that it is the activities of hoodlums pretending to be EFCC operatives,” he explained.
In a swift reaction on Wednesday, November 23, 2022, police detectives, on the orders of CP Ari Muhammed Ali, swooped on the criminal suspects in an unnamed hotel in Asaba, the Delta State capital, arresting the five suspects, including their ringleader, Port-Harcourt-based Prince Allison who allegedly “claimed to be an EFCC contract staff.
Acting on credible information, “the operatives on a sting operation, trailed them to their hideout in a hotel (name withheld) located in Asaba where they hibernate to plan their next operation and arrested five suspects,” Edafe further said.
Among items allegedly recovered from the suspects are many phones, POS machines and locally made ‘EFCC’ jackets, the police said.
Meanwhile, the state police commissioner, Ali, has “advised the public, especially the youths to have a rethink before taking laws into their hands as some situations may have more to it than it meets the eyes,” he noted.