A 2005 cadet of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) Academy, Abdulrasheed Bawa, is on his way to making history as the youngest and the first non-police officer to head the anti-corruption agency.
This is however subject to the ratification by the Senate, following a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari asking the lawmakers to confirm him as the substantive head of the commission.
With the suspension of the erstwhile acting chair, Ibrahim Magu since July 6, 2020, the agency had been under the watch of Mr. Ahmed Umar in acting capacity.
Consequent upon his suspension, Magu was dragged to Justice Ayo Salami’s panel for investigation.
Although the panel has submitted its report but it’s yet to be made public.
In a letter to President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, President Buhari said he was acting in accordance with Paragraph 2(3) of Part1, CAP E1 of EFCC Act 2004.
Bawa, 40, is a trained EFCC investigator with vast experience in the investigation and prosecution of Advance Fee Fraud cases, official corruption, bank fraud, money laundering, and other economic crimes.
He had undergone several specialised trainings in different parts of the world, and a pioneer cadet of the EFCC academy.
Bawa is an alumnus of Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto where he bagged a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics (Second Class Upper) in 2001, and a Master’s degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy from the same university in 2012.
Senate to screen Bawa in plenary
And in a response to the president’s request, the Senate Tuesday said it would screen Bawa at plenary.
Senate President Lawan announced this while presenting the president’s request to members.
“Distinguished colleagues, screening of the newly appointed EFCC Chairman, will be done in plenary in line with our tradition and in particular, for thoroughness it requires”, he said.
Lawan was however silent on the screening, since the communication would have to pass through legislative process of being listed on Senate ‘s order paper , upon which the leader would move motion for the date of the exercise.
Bawa, who currently heads the Lagos zonal office of the EFCC, was in October 2015 appointed to head the commission’s investigations of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, and her associates.
Prior to that time, he headed the Capacity Development Division of the EFCC Academy Abuja from December 2019 to August 2020.
He was also the zonal head, Port Harcourt Zonal Office overseeing Rivers, Bayelsa and Abia states operations from January 2019 to December 2019.
At another time, he was head Ibadan Zonal Office of the commission, covering Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Kwara states from June 2018 to January,2019.
Among several others, he also headed the counter-terrorism and general investigation/pension unit of the Lagos Zonal Office from March 2017 to May 2018.
He joined the anti-corruption agency as an Assistant Detective Superintendent (ADS) in 2004, and has spent all his work life at the EFCC.
Group wants speedy confirmation
Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum has commended President Buhari over Bawa’s choice.
Chairman of the group, Comrade Prince Kpokpogri, described the choice as the best thing to have happened at the leadership level of the EFCC.
Kpokpogri, who is also the publisher of Integrity Watchdog Magazine said Bawa’s 16 years of experience on the job would be an added advantage to the Commission.
“For us in the civil society, we are happy the President Muhammadu Buhari has considered Abdulrasheed Bawa fit to head EFCC. We have agitated severally that a career officer within the Commission should be given a chance. We are thanking President Muhammadu Buhari for giving us a listening ear.
“Having served and grew under all EFCC past chairpersons, starting with Nuhu Ribadu, who recruited the first set of civilians into EFCC (including Bawa) in 2005, the competence of Bawa is not in doubt,” he said.
But Magu, through his counsel, Tosin Ojaomo, has faulted the appointment, saying justice was not served in his case.
He spoke Tuesday while featuring on Politics Today- a Channels TV programme monitored by Blueprint in Abuja.
“Suddenly, no report came out, and another appointment was made… Justice has clearly not been done in this matter to Magu. We are talking about people’s integrity; reputational damage has been done to people.
“It is not just about Magu alone, there are other people at the commission that have been suspended. All these people, their integrity is now at stake as if their matter is a forgotten matter.
“When it comes to issue of justice, the words of Justice Oputa always come to my mind, who talked about issue of justice. He said justice is a 3-way traffic; justice to the complainant, justice to the accuser and to the society..
“In this matter, justice has not been served to the Nigerian people because everyone was expecting to know the outcome of the investigation. There were lot of news in the media about Magu, and people have now been put on suspense,” Ojaomo said.
On whether the president opted for a fresh appointment because the panel’s report may not have favoured Magu, he said that would be in the realm of speculation.
The counsel said: “It would be speculative to say the report was not in Magu’s favour. Ordinarily, inquiries have been conducted in this country and reports have been released and people have been able to make their own independent judgement from the report of the investigation. But in this case, an investigation was conducted, and report was not released, everything was just media reportage that people are relying on.
“At least this is what they call government should be accountable to the people, the government should let us know the reason for this indecision.”