The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has warned landlords across the country against letting out their properties to internet fraudsters otherwise known as “Yahoo Boys.
The anti-graft agency said it would begin the arrest and prosecution of landlords and their agents who rent apartments to fraudsters.
Sylvania Tahir, the EFCC’s legal director disclosed this at a Twitter engagement on Wednesday. He was joined by assistant director Cosmos Ugwu.
Tahir said individuals who knowingly permit fraudsters to use their premises to commit crimes would face prosecution and risk up to 15 years’ imprisonment according to Section 3 of the Advance State Fraud and other Fraud Related Offenses Act 2003.
“The law which is Advance State Fraud and other Fraud Related Offenses Act, 2003, made provisions under Section 3 on the topic we are discussing which is the use of premises,” Mr Tahir explained.
He stated further, “A person who being the occupier or is concerned in the management of any premises causes or knowingly permits the premises to be used for any purpose which constitutes an offence under this act commits an offence and is liable on culmination to a term, not more than fifteen years and not less than five years without an option of fine.”
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When asked if it might be presumed that a property’s owner or management is not aware of criminal activity by one of his/her tenants, Tahir responded that the law already specifies the limits of ignorance a property owner can claim.
“There is a term called ‘what he ought to know’ per the circumstances surrounding the kind of offence committed,” he added.
He also tasked property owners and managers to conduct background checks on their prospective clients. In cases where the managers of the premises are illiterate, he advised outsourcing the task to specialists.
With thousands of listeners on the space, the views of many people did not align with that of the EFCC. Some say that the vaguely defined “knowingly” in the clause of the law could be exploited by reckless cops to carry out severe human rights violations which have been seen in the past.
In recent time, some of the personnel of the EFCC have been accused of invading private homes and hotel rooms without warrants claiming they are hunting for suspected Yahoo Boys. A development that sparked public condemnation of the anti-graft agency’s operating frame.