President Bola Tinubu has approved the indefinite suspension of the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr AbdulRasheed Bawa, to allow for proper investigation into his conduct while in office.
A statement signed by the Director of Information in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Willie Bassey, said Bawa’s indefinite suspension followed weighty allegations of abuse of office levelled against him.
Bassey stated that Bawa has been directed to immediately handover the affairs of his office to the Director, Operations, in the commission, who will oversee the affairs of the office of the chairman of the commission, pending the conclusion of the investigation.
The statement reads, “President Bola Ahmed Tinubu,GCFR, has approved the indefinite suspension from office of Mr. AbdulRasheed Bawa, CON, as the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to allow for proper investigation into his conduct while in office.
“This follows weighty allegations of abuse of office levelled against him.
“Mr Bawa has been directed to immediately handover the affairs of his office to the Director, Operations in the Commission, who will oversee the affairs of the Office of the Chairman of the Commission pending the conclusion of the investigation.”
Born in April 30, 1980, Bawa, a native of Jega in Kebbi State, was nominated as substantive Chairman of EFCC on February 16, 2021, and confirmed by the National Assembly on February 24, 2023, as the youngest Executive Chairman of the commission, officially taking over from Mr. Ibrahim Magu, the former acting chairman of the commission.
Until his appointment, he was the Deputy Chief Superintendent of the anti-graft agency.
Frontline Anti-corruption Civil Society Organisations, numbering over 130, recently staged a protest in Lagos, calling for the sack of Bawa, over alleged politicisation of the commission, disobedience of court orders and infringement on human rights of Nigerians, among others.
The activists, who were joined by over 20 Constitutional lawyers, led by Mogbojuri Kayode of the Citizens Rights Advocacy Group, noted that the desperation of Bawa to save his face, after dishonourable acts in office, had taken a laughable turn, insisting that no amount of ‘purchased CSOs’ vote of confidence’ would cover the truth about the abnormalities being condoned in EFCC under its current leadership.
According to them, the EFCC has become so desperate to launder what they called a rapidly diminishing image of Bawa, to the extent that the commission’s spokesman laughably signed a Press Release, recently, informing Nigerians that a Civil Society Organisation had passed a ‘vote of confidence’ in its chairman.
The leaders of the struggle said it was a thing of honour that, despite the immense pressure mounted on leaders of the “Bawa Must Go” protests to abandon their objective cause, over 120 of the main actors had remained resolute while more had joined in the interest of the rule of law.
In September 2020, Peoples Gazette in an exclusive report detailed how Bawa stole and sold dozens of petrol-bearing trucks confiscated from suspected looters, auctioning them off to his proxies at ridiculous prices while he was in charge of the Port Harcourt office of the Commission. The report stated that Bawa was arrested and detained for several days by Magu.
Bawa was subsequently relieved of his position in Port Harcourt and transferred to the agency’s training school in Abuja. When he was nominated for the position of the Chairman of EFCC after the removal of Magu, civil society organisations condemned the nomination, calling on the Senate to reject his nomination. At the Senate confirmation screening, Bawa denied the allegation of selling seized properties in Port Harcourt.
On February 17, 2021, the EFCC issued a statement denying reports that, Bawa, was arrested and detained by the agency under Magu , over illegal sale of 244 forfeited trucks to proxies in Port Harcourt. The Commission further stated that Bawa was never at any time neither arrested nor detained by Magu.
The EFCC maintained that it was illogical for him to have been indicted over an auction that was not superintended by him.
On November 8, 2022, a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered him to be remanded for contempt for the EFCC’s noncompliance with a court order issued on November 21, 2018.
Although the matter leading to his contempt conviction was filed before his tenure as EFCC chairman, Bawa’s failure to submit himself for arrest vexed many including lawyers and civil society organizations who called for his removal from office by former President Muhammadu Buhari.