EFCC: Sweeping reforms, retirements likely as Bawa steps in
History is about to be made in the nation’s flagship anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as Abdulrasheed Bawa, a vibrant, articulate, well-bred youth, has been nominated by the Federal Government to step into the shoes vacated on July 7, 2020, by the erstwhile helmsman, Assistant Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Magu.
Magu was suspended and made to face the Justice Ayo Salami probe panel after he was accused of corruption and insubordination by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami. The panel’s report is yet to be made public.
On Tuesday, February 16, 2021, Femi Adeshina, the presidential spokesperson, announced that President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Senate to confirm Bawa as the substantive chairman of the commission.
With about 17 years’ working experience with the EFCC as a detective, Bawa who joined the agency in 2004 has vast investigation experience and has been part of the prosecution of advance fee fraud, official corruption, bank fraud, money laundering and other economic and financial crimes-related offences.
If confirmed by the Senate, 40-year-old Bawa would be the youngest on record and the first non-police officer to assume the headship of the agency. His predecessors were all senior police officers. The pioneer chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, assumed office at the age 43 in 2003 and left in 2007. He was succeeded by Farida Waziri, who assumed office in May 2008 at the age of 59 and left on November 23, 2011. The last substantive chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde, stepped into office on November 23, 2011, at age 49, and left on November 9, 2015.
Magu, the immediate-past acting chairman, who spent five years in office without Senate confirmation, assumed office at the age of 53 on November 9, 2015.
Bawa, a native of Jega Local Government Area of Kebbi State, is a trained EFCC investigator with vast experience. He has undergone several specialised training in different parts of the world.
His appointment is expected to bring about sweeping reforms in the anti-graft agency which has for years received bashings from people who accused some of the officers of compromising corruption and shielding offenders from prosecution. And based on his age and rank as deputy chief detective superintendent, several EFCC officers senior to him in rank, including the current Acting Chairman Mohammed Umar Abba, would likely be eased out of office as they would not be expected to salute a junior officer.
Abdulrasheed Bawa is a certified fraud examiner (CFE), certified anti-money laundering specialist (CAMS), and was also trained by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FINCEN), the World Bank, the United Nations Office of Drug and Crimes, the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria State Security Services, the EFCC Academy and United Kingdom’s Global Training Consulting.
Bawa was part of the pioneer EFCC Cadet Officers course one, 2005 and upon graduation was made an assistant detective superintendent (ADS). He progressed to the rank of deputy detective superintendent (DDS) in 2007, senior detective superintendent (SDS) in 2010, and principal detective superintendent (PDS) in 2013. His last promotion was to the rank of deputy chief detective superintendent (DCDS) in 2016.
A 2012 graduate of Economics (Second Class Honours) from Usman Danfodio University Sokoto, he obtained a Masters in International Affairs and Diplomacy from the same institution. He is currently studying for a Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree at the University of London.
The incoming EFCC chairman has attended several conferences and seminars across the globe which include ACAMS Global 24+ Virtual Conference (2020), ACFE Global Fraud Conference, Las Vegas, USA (June 2018), Global Forum on Assets Recovery (Gfar), Washington DC, USA (December 2017), UNCAC Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Assets Recovery, Vienna, Austria (August 2017), among others.
He is credited with successfully investigating and testifying in the prosecution of several cases, leading to convictions and recovery of billions of naira and millions of dollars in cash and properties across the world.
He currently supervises the biggest operations zonal office of the EFCC in Lagos, having 604 officers and securing 227 convictions. He had earlier supervised the investigation of all cases in the Port Harcourt zonal office in which an unprecedented 215 convictions were secured in 11 months and final forfeiture of hundreds of properties to the Federal Government.
Before then, he had headed the Capacity Development Division, EFCC Academy, Abuja from December 2019 to August 2020, the commission’s Ibadan Zonal Office covering Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Kwara States from June 2018 to January 2019, and the Counter-Terrorism and General Investigation/Pension Unit of the Lagos Zonal Office from March 2017 to May 2018.
Bawa was equally in charge of the investigations of Atlantic Energy Group (2014-2015) leading to the recovery of assets in Nigeria, UK, USA, Switzerland, UAE and Canada, and headed the investigations of Crude Oil Swaps and OPA case from 2014 to 2015 and recovery of assets. His investigation of the petroleum subsidy fraud investigations from 2012 to 2015 led to the recovery of about N70 billion with many companies prosecuted.
An award-winning detective, Bawa received the EFCC Merit Award in 2020 and earned the appreciation of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (Criminal Investigative Division) in 2019 after facilitating the collaboration between the EFCC and the FBI, which resulted in a mutual fight against economic and financial crimes on an international scale. In 2014, he received the 10 Years of Service Award in recognition of his continued commitment and contributions to the anti-corruption efforts.