By Chukwudi Nweje, Lagos
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), has urged the Senate not to confirm President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominee to head the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, until he clears himself of all allegations of corruption.
In a letter addressed to the president of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, dated Thursday, February 18, and signed by CACOL Chairman, Debo Adeniran, the group said it will be a disservice to the country and a dent in the anti-corruption crusade if Bawa is ratified by the senate and the allegations against him later found to be true.
‘We have been watching as events unfold since the suspension of Ibrahim Magu as the Acting Chairman of the EFCC. However, we are disturbed by the recent development in which Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa was announced by the Presidency as the new head of the anti-corruption agency. We are constrained at this point to bring to your attention our critical reaction to the nomination of Abdulrasheed Bawa as the Chairman of EFCC. We would like the hallowed chamber of the Senate to note the following contradictions before screening the newly nominated chairman of the EFCC: The Chairman Designate was alleged to have diverted 224 forfeited trucks while he was the Port Harcourt zonal head of the commission. He was also alleged to have been involved in oil theft sometime in the past. Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa is also rumoured to be a cousin to Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation who traduced Ibrahim Magu”, Adeniran said.
The group demanded the release of the white paper on Justice Ayo Salami’s panel set up in July 2020 to investigate various allegations of wrongdoing against Ibrahim Magu before action is taken on Bawa.
‘Since Mr Ibrahim Magu was suspended and not sacked, we expect the Presidency to come out with a white paper on Justice Ayo Salami’s panel set up in July 2020 to investigate various allegations of wrongdoing against Ibrahim Magu. The panel had since submitted its report to the President on November 20, 2020. Till date, we are still expecting a white paper on the recommendations of the panel. We would also want to know the fate of Ibrahim Magu.’
Adeniran said Bawa’s nomination violates the EFCC establishing act.
‘According to EFCC Establishment Act, Section 2a (ii) the Chairman to be appointed should: “be a serving or retired member of any security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent”. Such equivalence in the EFCC is Grade Level 15, while Bawa is on Grade Level 13. The EFCC Law is an Act of National Assembly hence Senate must not over rule itself by breaching a critical provision in the appointment of EFCC Chairman,’ he said.
The CACOL chairman decried what he referred o as a “use and dump” culture the EFCC and urged President Buhari to ensure that only people of impeccable character are appointed to head the anti-corruption agency.
‘From the inception of the EFCC, the story of the termination of the appointment of virtually all the former heads of the agency seems to be the same. It looks like the position is fast becoming a use and dump position wherein the end of the tenure has been determined from the beginning. It is gratifying that President Muhammadu Buhari, at various fora, having recognized the need…, one would have expected him to appoint a person of impeccable character to head the anti-corruption agency.’