The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibadan’s area office, on Tuesday warned hotel owners across the country not to welcome suspected internet fraudsters into their facilities.
His spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, gave the warning in a statement to Ibadan, following the arrest of 56 suspected internet fraudsters in Abeokuta.
A said the suspects were apprehended in their hiding places, which happened to be popular hotels in Abeokuta.
He said that “the operation was carried out on the basis of verified intelligence supported by weeks of surveillance.”
According to him, the operation was previously frustrated by hotel owners, who used various antics, including cutting off the power supply, to allow some of the suspects to escape arrest.
“Despite the lack of cooperation from the owners of the hotel, the officers were professional in ensuring that no one was injured or damaged during the operations, as some sections of the media have reported.
“The action of hoteliers amounts to willful sabotage and obstruction of law enforcement officials, an offense punishable under section 38 (2) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004,” said Uwujaren.
The spokesperson for the anti-graft agency said the commission had observed a worrying pattern of cold complicity on the part of some hoteliers.
He said hoteliers appeared to be in the hands of suspected fraudsters by accommodating them for long periods of time and making internet facilities available to them.
“The argument put forward in some quarters that hoteliers have no way of determining who is a fraudster before allowing them to stay in their facilities is against the law.
“Article 3 of the Fraud and Other Related Offenses Act 2006 provides for a prison sentence of five to 15 years without the possibility of a fine for those who have authorized the use of its premises for an offense”, Uwujaren said.
He said the commission would not tolerate situations in which hotel owners or managers allow fraudsters to use their facilities and protect them from arrest by law enforcement.
“While hoteliers are not facilitators of alleged crimes, as some have demonstrated by offering information to the commission, they are required to cooperate with law enforcement,” he said.
The EFCC spokesperson said 10 exotic cars, dozens of cellphones, laptops and several compromising documents were recovered from suspected fraudsters arrested in Abeokuta.
He said the suspects would be brought to justice as soon as the investigations were completed.