Operatives of the EFCC on Tuesday violently seized access cards and broke into hotel rooms in an overnight raid in Lagos, Peoples Gazette has learnt.
Dozens of hotel guests were left traumatised after anti-graft agents breached their privacy at Parktonian Hotel in Lagos affluent Lekki neighbourhood, witnesses said.
Many of the guests, including couples, were passing the night at the mid-size hotel when EFCC agents broke in at about 4:00 a.m. Some of them said they were naked under the duvet when agents broke in and were not even allowed to dress up before being interrogated by the officers, who said they were on a manhunt for suspected Internet fraudsters.
“The officers broke into my hotel room as I was sleeping,” a victim told The Gazette on Tuesday afternoon. “The incident that played out was just too traumatic for me to narrate.”
The witness said the officers started breaking into rooms after collecting the master access card to open all rooms from the management at gunpoint.
“They broke into the hotel and threatened to shoot the receptionists and management if they didn’t immediately release the master access card to them,” a witness said. “So the hotel workers had to comply immediately.”
Another witness who narrated his ordeal described it as “embarrassing and traumatising,” as he was unclad when operatives barged into the room.
Many foreigners, including some potential investors who came into the country to carry out preliminary studies on a cable manufacturing project, were caught in what witnesses described as “violent and uncivilised conduct” of the operatives, who were about two dozen.
The victim pleaded strict anonymity to avoid being victimised by EFCC agents. Some witnesses had previously reported being physically attacked by EFCC operatives for providing information about illegal and corrupt raids to the media.
“They continued to search other rooms. They went away with about 13 occupants,” he said. “I was naked, and I had to beg them (for me) to put something on. I am actually hypertensive, but I put myself together because I am not a criminal in any way.”
He described the experience as “embarrassing and traumatic,” noting that “nobody wants to sleep in a hotel where their privacy and security cannot be guaranteed.”
The witness added, “I am not going back to that hotel. They won’t go to Transcorp where people who are looting Nigeria’s money are staying.”
The hotel owner, Obinna Obiora, told The Gazette that he would comment on the matter later. The Gazette could not immediately confirm whether or not the officers had a warrant to invade the hotel.
When contacted by The Gazette, the spokesperson for the anti-graft agency, Wilson Uwujaren, claimed he was unaware of the raid.
“I haven’t got any report of such, but I’ll confirm from the Lagos office if there was any raid,” Mr Uwujaren told The Gazette over the telephone.
Controversial raids of public and private spaces have become increasingly common amongst EFCC officers in recent months. The department was established to fight economic crimes, but it has recently retooled itself towards a relentless crackdown on suspected Internet thieves, widely known as Yahoo Boys.
Earlier this year, an unidentified man jumped from the seventh floor of a storey building located at 1004 estate at Victoria Island, Lagos, during a raid by EFCC officials.
Last week, a similar incident played out at Oasis Park Estate, Osapa London, Lagos, where EFCC operatives frightened residents when they broke into homes in search of a purported Internet crook, who was not even around at the time of the raid, The Gazette learnt.