Over 150 anti-corruption Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) leaders gathered with their supporters, in Lagos, to celebrate what they termed the first step in the cleaning process for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
They hailed President Bola Tinubu’s administration for showing a bold will to fix the wrongs in critical areas of the Nigerian system and doing the right things in seemingly complex circumstances.
The CSOs noted that the suspension of the Chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, was long overdue.
According to them, genuine anti-corruption CSOs are indeed happy that their struggle against “politicisation of the EFCC, disobedience to lawful court orders and infringement on the human rights of Nigerians with impunity” has yielded a positive result at last.
The anti-graft crusaders, led by popular human rights activists, including the Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran; Executive Director, Zero Graft Centre, Kolawole Sanchez-Jude; Declan Ihehaire of the Activists for Good Governance; Ayodeji Ologun, Transparency and Accountability Group; and Olufemi Lawson, Spokesperson for the Coalition, among others, began a consistent call for Bawa’s removal about six months ago, holding rallies and town hall meetings across the country to press home their demand.
They had called on former President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Inspector-General of Police to effect the arrest of Bawa as ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction and commit him to prison for contempt.
They also petitioned the President on the need for a thorough investigation into the activities of the EFCC under Bawa, saying weighty allegations of corruption had been leveled against him.
The activists had said, despite obvious intimidation from certain quarters, they would not relent until Bawa stepped aside, noting that if the Buhari administration failed to do the right thing, the then incoming Tinubu administration would remove him.
To show their support and mark the beginning of victory on what they described as a just cause, they trooped out on the streets of Ikeja in Lagos, defying the heavy rain and chanting solidarity songs, after which they converged on a hall to address the press.
Speaking for the 150 CSOs, CACOL Chairman stated, “The Coalition of Anti-Corruption Organizations in Nigeria, is delighted to receive the news of the indefinite suspension of Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“The suspension of Mr Bawa, which is long overdue, is not only a welcome development, to the community of genuine Anti-Corruption Organizations in the country, but is considered by us as an opportunity for the thorough investigation into the many atrocious conduct of Mr Bawa during his reign as the Chairman of the EFCC.
“We wish to state that the decision of the President is very timely, especially when coming at a time it has become necessary to shore up waning public confidence in the EFCC.
“It is very sad that the reign of Mr Bawa as the Chairman of the EFCC was characterised by grave allegations of disobedience to the Rule of law with regard to court orders, alleged massive corruption and mismanagement of recovered public funds and assets.
“The office of EFCC Chairman is one which must be high above reproach and any semblance of moral turpitude, therefore making the suspension of Mr Bawa a necessary action to protect the agency’s troubled image.
“For over six months, our Coalition consistently demanded for the removal of Mr Bawa as Chairman of the EFCC based on several allegations of disobedience to the Rule of Law, allegations of personal enrichment, subversion of the course of justice in particular cases prosecuted by the EFCC and open politicisation of the Commission’s activities.
“This timely intervention of President Tinubu will not only help in restoring the confidence of Nigerians in the credibility of the EFCC, but will further convince Nigerians about the readiness of the administration to tackle the menace of corruption.
“Meanwhile, we are demanding for a thorough probe of the activities of the EFCC during the reign of Mr Bawa as Chief Executive of the Commission. This will not only assist in unraveling the numerous misconduct and abuse of office by Mr Bawa, but will indeed send a serious signal to intending abusers of their public offices that it is no longer business as usual, and that there are indeed no hiding places in the extant laws and procedural systems of Nigeria for power and position abusers.
“We wish to state our commitment, in partnering with the new administration, to ensuring the survival of the Anti-Corruption efforts in the overall interest of our dear Nation.”
The ‘Bawa Must Go’ protests were led by CACOL Chairman, Debo Adeniran; Executive Director, Zero Graft Centre, Kolawole Sanchez-Jude; Chairman, Coalition Against Corruption and Bad Governance, Toyin Raheem; Executive Director, Centre for Public Accountability, Olufemi Lawson; Spokesperson for the Transparency and Accountability Group, Ayodeji Ologun; Director, Activists for Good Governance, Declan Ihehaire; and Ahmed Balogun of Media Rights Concern, among over 120 notable leaders of Anti-corruption CSOs.