(OPINION) Bawa’s appointment as EFCC chair breaks 18-year tradition - Yusuf Alli
In line with the recommendation of Justice Isa Ayo Salami’s panel, President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday broke the 18-year tradition of appointing policemen as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), with his recommendation of Abdulrasheed Bawa confirmation.
Bawa, if cleared, will be the first EFCC’s Cadet to head the commission. He will replace suspended Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu.
He is a Course One EFCC Cadet product, one of the detectives tagged Nuhu Ribadu boys.
Since inception in 2003, the EFCC has had five chairmen, mostly police officers, with only three of them confirmed by the Senate as substantive holders of the office.
The past and present chairmen are Nuhu Ribadu (2003-2007); Ibrahim Lamorde (Acting Chairman, 2008); Farida Mzamber Waziri (2008-2011); Ibrahim Lamorde (2011-2015); Ibrahim Magu (Acting Chairman, 2015- July 8, 2020—Still suspended); and Mohammed Umar Abba (Acting Chairman, July 8, 2020—February 16, 2021.
It was learnt that in appointing Bawa, the President upheld the recommendation of Salami’s Judicial Commission of Inquiry to “appoint the next chairman from among the cadets of the anti-graft commission.”
A top source said: “The panel said in line with international best practices, EFCC should be headed by cadets trained from its academy and other international bureaus of investigation all over the world.
PAST, PRESENT CHAIRMEN OF EFCC
- Nuhu Ribadu (2003-2007)
- Ibrahim Lamorde (Acting Chairman, 2008)
- Farida Mzamber Waziri (2008-2011)
- Ibrahim Lamorde (2011-2015)
- Ibrahim Magu ( Ag. Chair, 2015- July 8, 2020—still suspended)
- Mohammed Umar Abba (Ag. Chair, July8, 2020—Feb. 16, 2021)
“The Commission of Inquiry felt the police grip of the command structure of EFCC has derailed the anti-graft agency, especially with its little respect for fundamental human rights of suspects.
”The panel uncovered that 850 police officers (including globally acknowledged detectives like Magu) and men had been part of the EFCC system. It was said to have also realized that police mentality has taken over EFCC. It asked the Presidency to remove police officers and men from EFCC to enable anti-graft cadets to take over its operation.
“The Secretary of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, who was a retired Course One officer, was fingered as central to the decision of the panel having cited examples from various jurisdictions.”
In spite of the disagreement of the police with the recommendation of the panel, President Buhari was said to have endorsed it to “give anti-graft war more human face.”
It was learnt that with the President’s decision, about six generations of police officers will be “eased out of the commission in the next one to two years.”
“The internal politics within the Police over EFCC’s chairmanship did not help their career in the agency because they engaged in mudslinging and bitter squabbles.
“It was the same rivalry in the police which led to many allegations against Magu that could not be established before the JudicialCommission of Inquiry.”
It was also revealed that Buhari settled for Bawa following Salami panel’s “strong opinion that he gave sufficient and useful information to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry.
“Salami did not hide his preference for Bawa when he openly recommended him when he submitted the report of the commission to the President.”
“Bawa has paid his dues, he was involved in high-profile investigations including being a member of a team which handled cases against a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke.
“The President appointed Bawa because of his rank as a Level 13 officer which is equivalent to the Assistant Commissioner of Police. Do you think the government would not have done due diligence?a
“His choice fits into the criteria in Sections 2 and 3 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 on the composition of EFCC and appointment of chairman.
As at press time, the fate of Magu was unknown but it was learnt that only the Police Service Commission (PSC) can make a pronouncement on him.
“I think the President is trying to follow due process by allowing the PSC to determine whether or not Salami’s panel had genuineissues against him.”