Bawa's Suspension: Rights Group Worry EFCC Is Becoming More Like a Game of Political Football

..calls for an independent appointing authority for EFCC/ICPC Chairmen

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By Ed Malik, A | |
posted June 16, 2023

Leading civil Rights Advocacy group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has faulted the hasty suspension of the substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr. Bawa Abdulrasheed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu over alleged fraud, saying that his removal without a reference to the National Assembly and fair hearing has reduced the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as a political football pitch of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

HURIWA expressed fear that EFCC with the frequent politically motivated removal of virtually all its Chairmen since its inception has become the perfect football pitch for politicians wielding power at the topmost echelons of the polity in each new administration.

The Rights group lamented that with the suspension of Abdulrasheed Bawa by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Wednesday, June 14, 2023, what some scholars termed as the vicious circle of embarrassing ends has continued for EFCC bosses, a scenario that HURIWA says poses a significant threat to the integrity of the institutional platform that is statutorily charged with combating corruption and abuse of power.

The Rights group said it is indeed antithetical that heads of EFCC that should live above Ceaser’s wife ordinarily are often sacrificed at the altar of self-centered political interests of each of the previous Presidents except Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who set up the EFCC and almost all of them are accused of corruption and then the story ends as soon as they vacated their office and business continues as usual with another successor.

HURIWA citing research information affirmed that since its establishment in 2003 during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, every individual who has headed the anti-corruption agency left the establishment with ignominy including Nuhu Ribadu who reportedly impressed the President by his performance as EFCC boss, so much so that Obasanjo promoted him to the position of Assistant Inspector General of Police in April 2007.

HURIWA however lamented that eight months later, Ridadu who was raised to the status of a hero by a Previous government was removed as EFCC chairman during the administration of President Umaru Musa Yar’adua. In May 2008, Farida Waziri succeeded Ribadu to continue the fight against corruption. But in November 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan sacked her and replaced her with Ibrahim Lamorde. Waziri’s appointment was terminated following an allegation that the EFCC had been selective in its investigations.

Also, in November 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari sacked Lamorde and replaced him with Ibrahim Magu. On Monday, July 6, 2020, he was arrested by security operatives at the entrance of the Wuse II EFCC office in Abuja and the following day, he was suspended as the EFCC boss due to corruption allegations leveled against him. Following the suspension of Magu, Abdulrasheed Bawa stepped into his shoes at the age of 40, he is reportedly the youngest EFCC boss in the history of the agency. Bawa’s headship of the EFCC followed his predecessors’ footsteps on Wednesday, June 14, 2023, when President Bola Ahmed Tinubu suspended him indefinitely over alleged abuse of office. He was subsequently taken in by the Department of States Service (DSS) for investigation.

Following the suspension of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, the Director of Operations at the agency, Abdulkarim Chukkol, is expected to take over in an acting capacity.

President Bola Tinubu had on Wednesday ordered the embattled anti-graft czar to step aside pending the conclusion of an investigation against him over what was described as “weighty allegations”.

A statement signed by the Director, of Information in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Willie Bassey, had directed Bawa to hand over to the Director of Operations at the commission.

HURIWA has however dismissed the process which President Bola Ahmed Tinubu adopted in so much haste to sack Abdulrasheed Bawa who once handled a certain petition written against the current President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and indeed Bawa as the head of the Lagos office of the EFCC then, had reportedly written a letter to the Code of Conduct Tribunal to affirm that Bola Ahmed Tinubu had a case to answer just as the Rights group warned the President to halt further vindictive politics and be a statesman and father of all citizens including his critics.

HURIWA is advocating the establishment of an independent appointing authority of certain strategic commissions such as the anti-corruption system similar to the extant National Judicial Commission so it is not so easy for a sitting President to plug off the heads of anti-graft institutions because these tendencies and erratic behavioral politics of Nigerian politicians have sent wrong signals to the international community that government is just playing cartoon networks with the anti-corruption agencies.

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