Despite the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari in the fight against corruption, statistics have shown that he has made little progress in over five years. Hence, the need to bring onboard a young and exceptional go-getter, Abdulrasheed Bawa as Chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Just recently, Nigeria dropped to 149 on Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perception Index, as against 146th it stood in 2019, the worst ranking received by Africa’s largest the country in recent time.
This means that Nigeria is two steps worse off than she was in 2018 when she scored 27 points to place 144th out of 180 countries.
According to the latest ranking, Nigeria is now the second the most corrupt country in West Africa with Guinea-Bissau the only country more corrupt than Nigeria in the sub-region.
However, in a move to change the dynamics, President Buhari Tuesday named Abdulrasheed Bawa as Chairman of the EFCC to replace the embattled ex-chairman, Ibrahim Magu, who chaired the agency in an acting capacity for about five years.
At 40, if confirmed, he would be the youngest person to chair the Commission with different training across the globe including the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE); Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS); the United States Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FINCEN); The World Bank; The United Nations Office of Drug and Crimes; Nigeria Police Force; Nigeria State Security Services; The EFCC Academy; United Kingdom’s Global Training Consulting, KPMG among many others.
Bawa, who currently heads the Lagos zonal office of the EFCC, has the backing of the United State, because of the faith has in his potential to bring about the change required in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
For instance, he was in October 2015 appointed to head the commission’s investigations of Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, and her associates.
Aside from his record age, Mr Bawa will be the first substantive chairman without a background in the Nigerian Police Force, a feature which appears to be in line with one of the reported recommendations of the Ayo Salami panel which investigated the commission and Mr Magu last year.
Mr Bawa who hails from Jega, in Kebbi State, graduated from the Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics (Second Class Upper) in 2001.
He also holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy which he obtained from the same University in 2012. And currently pursuing a Bachelor of Laws degree at The University of London.
Mr Bawa joined the EFCC as an Assistant Detective Superintendent (ADS) in 2004 and has spent all his work life at the agency. He was part of the pioneer EFCC Cadet Officers, course one, 2005.
He, therefore, rose through the ranks to become a Deputy Chief Detective Superindent (DCDS), the position he has been holding since 2016 up till the time of his nomination as the anti-graft agency’s substantive chairman.
With about 17 years working with the EFCC as a detective, Mr Bawa has vast investigation experience and has been part of the prosecution of advance fee fraud, official corruption, bank fraud, money laundering and other economic and financial crimes related to offences.
It is worthy of note that the commission’s operations zonal office in Lagos, which he currently heads since August 2020, is the biggest operations zonal office of the EFCC with 604 officers working under him to date.
Before that time, he had headed the Capacity Development Division, EFCC Academy, Abuja from December 2019 to August 2020. He was also the Zonal Head, Port Harcourt Zonal Office overseeing Rivers, Bayelsa and Abia state operations from January 2019 to December 2019.
The EFCC He had also headed the commission’s Ibadan Zonal Office covering Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Kwara states from June June 2018 to January 2019.
He headed the Counter-Terrorism and General Investigation/Pension Unit, of the Lagos Zonal Office from March 2017 to May 2018.
He has successfully investigated and testified in the prosecution of many cases leading to convictions and recovery of looted monetary and assets across the world.
As the head of the EFCC’s investigations of Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke from 2015 till date, his team has recovered millions of dollars worth of property in Nigeria, U.K., U.S.A, and U.A.E including 92 of such assets in Nigeria.
He also supervised the investigations of Atlantic Energy Group-from 2014 to 2015 leading to the recovery of assets in Nigeria, UK, USA, Switzerland, UAE and Canada.
He headed the investigations of Crude Oil Swaps and OPA case from 2014 to2015, also leading to the recovery of assets.
Mr Bawa was also involved in the Petroleum Subsidy Fraud investigations from 2012 to 2015 during which fraud of about N70 billion was identified, funds recovered and many companies were prosecuted.
Another notable investigation, Mr Bawa has been involved in a former Governor of Niger State, Muazu Babangida Aliyu, who is currently facing trial.
He has also participated in several other periodic raids on “notorious (419) Cyber-cafés”, the sort of operations from which the EFCC records the lion share of its convictions.
Similarly, Bawa supervised the investigation of all cases in Port Harcourt Zonal office in which an unprecedented 215 convictions were secured in eleven months and securing Final Forfeiture of hundreds of properties to the Federal Government.
After his confirmation by the Senate, Bawa is expected to take over from Mohammed Umar Abba, who was appointed as Acting Chairman by President Buhari last year, following the suspension of the immediate past Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has, however, disclosed that the screening of Abdulrasheed Bawa as substantive Chairman of the Anti-graft agency will be carried out during plenary in line with the tradition of the Upper Chamber.
“The screening of the Chairman-designate of the EFCC will be done in plenary, in keeping with our the tradition here,” he said.
Meanwhile, there is no doubt that Nigerians have every reason in ensuring that the fight against corruption is succeeding such that public resources are protected.
Stakeholders who reacted to the emergence of Bawa as the substantial EFCC boss believed that the war against corruption in Nigeria is a fight the government is going to win with the active support of the citizenry to the new antigraft agency chairman.
They, therefore, urged Nigerians and the youths to support the new EFCC chief in realising Nigeria of our dream.
Consequently, President Muhammadu Buhari had said his administration has taken measures to strengthen anti-corruption agencies to ensure the total fight against corruption in the country.
Buhari said that the measures, including various national reforms and collaborative efforts with international organisations were being made to strengthen the anti-corruption crusade.
According to him, the administration’s war against corruption is also attracting international endorsements. “Our fight against corruption is being recognised by the international community as real and effective.
“The face of the country abroad is also changing as the international community is beginning to see Nigeria making substantial progress in the enthronement of transparency, accountability and good governance.”