The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, today, February 14, 2023, raised the alarm about the activities of an amorphous group of so-called Civil Society Organizations who have recently embarked on a campaign of street protests, calling for the removal of the Chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa.
Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja, the Commission’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said the activities of the group were aimed at discrediting the EFCC Chairman and inciting the public against the Commission.
He stated that, contrary to the claims of the group that they were motivated by the need to strengthen the fight against corruption, the “group have no interest in the fight against Corruption and their allusion to disobedience of court orders by the EFCC chairman is an alibi to manipulate facts around judicial pronouncements and processes to pitch the public against the Commission”
The EFCC spokesman said “information available to the Commission, indicates that the group is sponsored by persons under investigation by the Commission and have been mobilized and mandated by their paymaster to embarrass the person of the chairman through choreographed street protests across the country, until he is removed from office.”
He noted that “It is significant that this group found its voice after the EFCC launched an investigation into the mindless looting of the treasury of one of the states. This same group shouted that the Commission lacked the power to investigate the theft of the state’s resources. Their latest dance in the market square came a few hours after family members of a sitting state governor were arraigned at an Abuja court for allegedly stealing the state’s funds”.
Uwujaren expressed worry that the spectre of rented crowd, rented CSOs, etc. are blights in our social fabric and manifest demonstration of how deep-seated corruption has permeated every sector of our society.
He appealed to the public to disregard the campaign by this group as they do not represent the genuine interest of millions of Nigerians who are desirous of seeing progress in the fight against Corruption.
Addressing the claims that the Commission had been disobeying court orders, the EFCC spokesperson reiterated that the Commission has never, and will not take any steps to undermine the judiciary. “As a law abiding institution, EFCC has conducted all its activities within the ambit of the law. Where judicial decisions were made against it, it has never resorted to self-help but availed itself of remedies under the law as it did in the instant case of committal orders of court”, he said.
Explaining the circumstances around the two committal orders against the EFCC Chairman., he said it was important to point out that the first order of November 8, 2022 was made in respect of a 2018 judgment, three years before Bawa became Chairman of the EFCC. That, as soon as he became aware of the judgment in June 2022, he had directed the release of the seized assets, a Sport Utility Vehicle to the applicant and activated the process for the release of the sum of N40million to the applicant in compliance with the court ruling. Uwuaren said this gesture does not show contempt for the court or the judiciary which he holds in great esteem.
In the case of the last order by Justice R.O. Ayoola of the Kogi State High Court, Uwujaren explained that the court, in invoking Form 49, failed to take cognizance of a pending appeal of its ruling of November 30, which directed the Commission to produce a fraud suspect, one Ali Bello. “It also failed to transmit records of appeal to the Court of Appeal.
“The Commission believes it was denied fair hearing as the alleged infringement of the rights of the applicant happened in Abuja which is outside the jurisdiction of the Kogi High court. As a law abiding institution, EFCC approached the appellate court, for a stay of execution. This is a valid and lawful remedy by law and does not evoke any aura of impunity or disregard for the judiciary”, he said
He concluded that it was evident that those claiming that Bawa had a penchant for flouting court orders are simply up to mischief, but assured that the EFCC will not be distracted by this campaign of calumny “as we believe that this agenda will fail”