CSOs march for removal of Bawa as EFCC chair
Accuse him of embarassing anti-graft fight, violating court orders
Over 100 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), yesterday, marched on Lagos streets in continuation of their demand for removal of Abdulrasheed Bawa as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
They had kick-started their “Protest Against Politicisation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Disobedience of Court Orders and Infringement on Human Rights of Nigerians” on Friday.
Yesterday’s leg was third in their push to get Bawa removed from office because, according to them, he had turned the anti-graft agency into a “sensational media agency, churning out deliberate misinformation on almost a daily basis to strengthen a political cause.”
Stating that they will not fold their arms and watch the country’s global anti-corruption outlook slip into a mess “all in the name of the anti-democratic tendencies of a few recalcitrant leaders,” the CSOs stated that Bawa has to go, as he had allegedly become an embarrassment to the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
The ‘Bawa Must Go’ protesters were by the Chairman of 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; Executive Director, Centre for Public Accountability, Olufemi Lawson; spokesperson for Transparency and Accountability Group, Ayodeji Ologun; Director, Activists for Good Governance, Declan Ihehaire and Ahmed Balogun of Media Rights Concern, among others.
Asked why they wanted the EFCC helmsman sacked, Adeniran stated: “Bawa has become an embarrassment to the fight against corruption in Nigeria. A serial violator of court order is not fit to head an agency that is supposed to sanitise the society.
“Any act of dishonesty is corruption. Anything that is against the law, that is deliberately done with impunity, is corruption. It doesn’t matter how you feel about a case. Even if it is a drunken judge that gives a verdict on any issue taken to court, you are bound to obey the order.”
The foremost anti-corruption activist continued: “For several years, we have criticised the military regimes and civilian administrations that have ruled us with impunity. Impunity comes when the court is no longer seen as an arbiter between the people and provisions of the extant laws. We rely on the courts to adjudicate in matters of conflict between the people and the system. And anytime anyone runs against the system, it is also the court that will adjudicate.
“A situation whereby somebody is so powerful, somebody is so influential, somebody sees that he has a larger than life image and decides that he is not going to respect our law courts or the laws of the land, it is against the rule of natural justice, it is against the ethos of democratic practice, it is against the principles of human rights.”
The demonstrators also hinted that they would petition Chief Justice of Nigeria to demand that until the court order to arrest Bawa is effected, “no court should entertain any EFCC case henceforth.”
Other campaigners, who took turns to speak with the media, claimed that some EFCC officials have confided in their members that they are not happy that the Commission appears to be focusing mainly on “settling political scores than confronting” its core mandate.
“You can’t run to the same courts you disrespect to get judgment for your cases. And you can’t also choose which court judgment to obey. If Bawa has been committed to prison, he has no business being in office right now. And someone, who has flouted the order of the court on several occasions, cannot head an agency as sensitive as EFCC,” Lawson submitted.
In his remarks, Ologun noted: “Many cases of genuine corruption are left unattended under Bawa. He came on board through vendetta and he has proved in the period he has been in office that he might have been appointed to serve as a tool for political assault on opponents of his sponsors.”