Scores of Anti-corruption Organisations and constitutional lawyers in Nigeria have submitted a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, demanding a probe of the EFCC Chairman, Mr AbdulRasheed Bawa.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the activists on Tuesday, resumed its suspended protest in Lagos, calling for removal of Bawa, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged disregard for the rule of law.
In a statement on Thursday in Lagos by Mr Olufemi Lawson, spokesperson for the over 130 CSOs and 20 constitutional lawyers, the activists disclosed that they had also submitted a copy of the petition to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP).
The statement is entitled ” Bawa not Fit to Remain EFCC Chairman.”
“In continuation of our advocacy for the maintenance of the sanctity and inviolability of the rule as related to our nation’s judiciary, we have submitted a petition to the office of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, today, March 16, 2023, in Abuja.
“This is to further drive home the point that impunity cannot be allowed to thrive at any level of governance.
“A copy of the said petition has also been submitted to the inspector-general of police in order to intimate the police authorities that a convict cannot be allowed to be walking freely without being reined in as ordered by the Courts,” the statement said.
According to it, the activists want to re-emphasise that their primary interest is in protecting our Judiciary.
The statement added: “It is in this regard that we appreciate and commend President Buhari for his decisive action on the recently contrived complications vis-a-vis the Supreme Court judgment on the Naira swap policy.
” The President’s exemplary stand against purveyors of impunity in his government shows him as a true democrat and an astute statesman.
“It is in this same wise that we call on him to ensure that all renegades against the rule of law in his government are firmly reined in,” it said.
The statement alleged that Bawa seemed to be totally oblivious of the workings of governance with regard to separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary.
It said that Bawa’s modus operandi with the commission was allegedly causing serious concerns among the its top hierarchy.
The statement said: “We are not unaware of the targeted attacks against our patriotic interventions, including the planned launching of a faceless organisation, led by discredited activists whose stomachs are their God, for the purpose of continuing to launder Bawa’s image.
“As veteran credible activists, no amount of threats or compromising overtures can dissuade us from the genuine cause that we have embarked on to ensure that our judiciary is not rubbished by power in the service of political machinations, and to ensure that politics has little or no space in the discharge of EFCC’s duties.”
The petition, a copy of which was made available to the press, read in part:
“It is on the basis of the continued perpetration of illegality in the EFCC, that we promptly alerted the nation to it, issuing a seven -day ultimatum to the IGP to effect Bawa’s arrest and make him face justice.
“It is worrisome that weeks after we issued this ultimatum, Bawa is still walking free.”
“This also includes brazen disobedience of court orders, among others.”
The petition said that if a government agency expected to fight crime was found going about its business in a manner that mimics witch-hunt while also being unable to deal with corruption going on within its own workforce, the nation may slide into some real crisis of confidence in the systems.
The petition urged Buhari to: “direct the IGP to immediately effect the arrest of Abdulrasheed Bawa in compliance with a subsisting order of the court and make him face the full consequences of his actions, based on court orders that we are sure he is aware of, but has refused to act upon.
” A commission of enquiry should be set up to look into the workings of the EFCC, its present engagements and happenings within the commission.
“Immediately suspend Bawa as head of the EFCC to restore confidence in the capacity of the commission to truly fight financial crime and purge itself of bad elements while discharging its job.
“Order an immediate overhaul of the commission and where necessary, lobby the National Assembly to amend the EFCC Act to make the structure less prone to high-handedness and make the chairmen answerable to the laws of the land.”
NAN reports that Leaders of the anti-corruption CSOs that began the call for the removal of Bawa included the Chairman, Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran; Executive Director, Zero Graft Centre, Kolawole Sanchez-Jude; Chairman, Coalition Against Corruption and Bad Governance, Toyin Raheem.
Others were the Executive Director, Centre for Public Accountability, Olufemi Lawson; Ahmed Balogun of Media Rights Concern, Ologun Ayodeji,
Transparency and Accountability Group; Declan Ihehaire, Activists for Good Governance; Ochiaga Jude, Centre for Ethics and Good Governance, among many others and constitutional lawyers. (NAN)