$2 million bribery: HURIWA demands surveillance around Matawalle, says Bawa deserves commendation
Rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), yesterday, passed a vote of confidence on chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa and the good works of the anti-corruption agency under him.
The group also expressed surprise that such a shining star would come under the vicious attack of Governor Matewalle of Zamfara State when he accused Bawa of demanding $2 million bribery from him as a condition to close the investigation into an alleged N70 billion fraud.
The national coordinator of the group, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, who addressed newsmen on the issue yesterday, described the allegation by Zamfara governor as a mere blackmail that should be dismissed with a wave of hands.
Consequently, HURIWA demanded immediate surveillance around Matawalle, so he didn’t escape before May 28.
According to HURIWA, “After handing over to the new governor in Zamfara State, the governor’s arrest is crucial. Otherwise, he may get away with the perfidy and disappear from the country to go to enjoy the alleged loot somewhere else.”
The group stressed that the EFCC has been revitalised, reshaped, and made much more alive to its statutory responsibilities under the leadership of the present chairman despite corruption always fighting back ferociously.
It said: “ The media and indeed Nigerians can recall that the EFCC was established in 2003, partially in response to pressure from the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), which named Nigeria as one of 23 countries non-cooperative in the international community’s efforts to fight money laundering.
“The agency with its head office in Abuja, is, therefore, a Nigerian key law enforcement agency that investigates financial crimes such as advance fee fraud (419 fraud) and money laundering.
“Before the coming Bawa, the work of the EFCC had come under public scrutiny and criticism. Many criticized the agency and branded it as a political tool in the hands of the presidency. All this has changed under Bawa as the agency is now far more professional and focused on its statutory responsibility.”
The group added: “EFCC under Bawa’s watch and leadership is dealing with these constraints and delivering despite them.
“Thus, the Commission has carried out the core function of investigation of all financial crimes including advance fee fraud, money laundering, counterfeiting, illegal fund transfers, futures market fraud, contract scam, etc. with admiration and with significant success.
“The coordination and enforcement of all economic and financial crimes laws and adoption of measures to identify, trace, freeze, confiscate or seize proceeds derived from terrorist activities have been carried out to higher delivery levels for which the Commission deserves commendation, not condemnation and vilification.
“The media is further aware of the friction and prima donna syndrome that existed before this time in methods to eradicate the commission of economic and financial crimes and collaboration with government bodies both within and outside Nigeria to ensure the eradication of economic and financial crimes in Nigeria. You will agree with us that it is self-evident that there is greater cooperation among agencies.
“The reputation of the EFCC has also been shored up of late and no longer seen as a corrupt agency fighting corruption, which was the image the Commission cut after the removal of its immediate past chairman, Ibrahim Magu.
“The Commission under Bawa has been engaging in education and enlightenment campaigns against the evil of economic and financial crimes within and outside Nigeria with the Nigerian public. There has also been more engagement in enlisting the partnership of the media. EFCC has also been offering more orientation to the general public on anti-graft requirements using public lectures; media sensitization campaigns among others.
“Of particular importance is the Commission’s handling of politically exposed persons (PEP). This refers to individuals who are or have been entrusted with prominent public offices and have considerable connections with such highly placed individuals.
“EFCC under Bawa has not been a respecter of persons and does not pander to political pressure, thanks also to President Muhammadu Buhari who has given the Commission a free hand to operate, the freedom the Commission under Bawa has maximized to the fullest.
“EFCC has not been involved in political witch-hunting as happened in the past when the Commission was accused of working for the ruling party and allowing itself to be deployed as a witch-hunting tool. This is the hallmark of professionalism for which the Commission again deserves commendation.
“Let it also be put on record that the EFCC of the day is so thorough in its investigations. And that is why it has secured higher levels of convictions, almost triple the rate in the previous years.
“The EFCC recorded only 195 convictions in 2016, in 2017, EFCC recorded 186, which went down; in 2018 when the Commission recorded 312 convictions, in 2019, they recorded 1280 convictions, which went up by over 312 percent. In 2022, when the nation went through the harrowing experience of COVID, convictions went down to 976. In 2021, which was part of Bawa’s administration, they recorded an unprecedented 2,220 convictions and in the year 2022, we have so far recorded 3,615 convictions before the end of the year.
“This was both unprecedented and phenomenal and it happened under the leadership of Abdulrasheed Bawa.”