EFCC: Who is after Bawa? – Dr. Muiz Banire SAN

EFCC: Who is after Bawa? - Dr. Muiz Banire SAN

Dr. Muiz Banire, SAN.

This question is necessitated by the spate of press conferences and releases I have recently been reading on the call for the sack of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa. Most of the press releases or conferences are traceable to some non-governmental organizations, some of which have not been heard of before and operated by pseudo names.

Due to the interest that I have in the young man, that is, the chairman of the Commission, the circumstance of our meeting, which I have, in the course of his confirmation as the substantive chairman of the Commission detailed in my column (See my column in the Daily Sun of 25th February, 2021, “EFCC chair and unnecessary controversy ”), I, most times, follow his activities and the news items around him.
It will be recalled that upon the nomination of Bawa as the substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to replace the then Acting Chairman of the Commission, Ibrahim Magu, some agitators rose to oppose the nomination of Bawa by the President.

The basis of their opposition was initially then that he was a corrupt operative who was involved in some shady transactions while serving as the Zonal Head of the Commission in Port Harcourt. After the Commission debunked this allegation as a figment of the imagination of those peddling the rumour, the rumour mongers vanished. Not quite long after, another onslaught was mounted under the guise of qualification to assume the office. Again, this failed and the screening was eventually conducted by the National Assembly with the nominee speedily cleared of any misconduct or stain.

Ultimately, Abdul Rasheed Bawa was eventually sworn in as the substantive Chairman of the Commission and for two years now, he has been paddling the affairs of the Commission in a decent and respectable manner, in my view. As hinted above, the call for the removal of the Commission Chairman is now becoming deafening, disturbing and uncomfortable to some of us who believe in the occupier of the office.

Due to my interest in the young man, I have painstakingly ruminated over the various releases as captured in the print media with a view to unveiling those interested in his removal and the basis of such call. In virtually all of the publications, I have not discovered the aggrieved person, thus giving me the impression that this must be another proxy war. None of the authors of the publications could categorically state that this is the injury done to him by the Chairman of the Commission so as to justify the demand for his removal. The allusions often made is that he is disobeying a court order. Strangely, the story around the said court order is not disclosed in any of the publications.

That, therefore, denies me the opportunity of being able to comment on the order. Be that as it is, if the grudge of the advocates of the removal is the disobedience to court order, then, I will be surprised that this is the option they have resorted to. I am pretty sure that a counsel must have initiated the proceedings that led to the said court order that is alleged to being disobeyed. If this is correct, then it is presumed that the concerned lawyer knows what to do if truly there is disobedience to the order of court. The lawyer needs not be reminded that there is in existence, towards curbing disobedience of court orders, a process called contempt proceedings. This is the conventional way of enforcing compliance with court orders where there is non-compliance. This is not new to most Nigerians again as recently we saw a baptism of convictions for contempt against most of the Security Chiefs, including the Commission’s chairman himself, until they satisfactorily explained themselves to the court before being discharged. Hence, I believe, with the flurry of publicity given to the call for his removal and organized protests, the rationale would seem to be more than any purported disobedience to court orders.

This was done and I was found not culpable. With all sense of modesty and while not pretending to be an angel but suspecting that I have an idea of what constitutes propriety, at least in some circumstances such as this, this is the way I believe the supposedly aggrieved person(s) should go. If truly the person is convinced of his innocence, let the resources being wasted, in my view, on the media, be channeled towards legal representation. This is what I expect to see. Mere verbal accusations cannot ground the removal of any public officer as there are statutory processes and grounds for such removal. I do not intend to advise beyond this threshold gratuitously. Again, to ensure stability in the Commission, I am of the strong view that the chairmanship of the Commission must not change with the successive governments. It is not and can never be in the interest of the anti-corruption fight. If that happens, it then means that the impartiality and objectivity of the Commission can never be guaranteed.

The political class will then continue to have their way. It is against this background that I am of the view that each Chairman be allowed to exhaust his tenure once there is no grievous misconduct on his part. At least, it can be recorded against the tenure of the current Chairman that we now have less media trials which used to characterize the activities of the Commission before. Experience have shown also that less number of civil disputes now masquerade as criminal cases so as to vest jurisdiction in the Commission contrary to what used to be the case. Instances of inordinate detention is fast reducing under the administration of the gentleman called Bawa. During his screening and thereafter, he has consistently mentioned his respect for the rule of law and its observance.

This promise, in my view, has been matched with action in his operations. Quite inevitably, there will still be some aberrations, particularly at the zonal levels which he might not be aware of. This is not to say that he is not responsible for such but just to recognize some measure of human failings. His respect for the rule was demonstrated even recently when he was found wanting in disobedience to court order. He was not intransigent on this but respected the court by instantly filing the appropriate application to explain himself and ensuring compliance with the court orders, leading to the vacation of the contempt order.

That means he promptly purged himself of contempt which is the way a responsible officer of government or any person whosoever, should behave. Thus, this unnecessary call for the sack of the Commission Chairman should stop in the interest of the nation, or alternatively, such call or demand should be ignored by the appropriate authority.


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