CITIZENS COMPASS– Fresh protests brewed in Lagos State, on Friday, as civil society organisations have called for the sack of Abdulrasheed Bawa as Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The right activists cited incessant disobedience of court order being reason for their demand.
Over 40 anti-corruption Civil Society Organisations were part of the protest during a press conference jointly addressed the leaders of the anti-corruption activists.
The CSOs alleged that the EFCC, under Bawa, had chosen to become an institution known for brazenly disobeying orders of courts in such a manner that does not only undermine the institutions of Nigeria’s democracy, but also indicates a contradiction to the anti-corruption agenda of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, and came to a conclusion that Bawa must be sacked for the Commission to recover its past glory.
The bodies were led by the Chairman, Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, 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; and Ahmed Balogun of Media Rights Concern, among others.
The press conference was themed,: “EFCC’s Consistent Disobedience of Court Orders is a Recipe for Anarchy; A Call For The Immediate Sack of Mr. AbdulRasheed Bawa”.
Other leaders include Ologun Ayodeji, Transparency and Accountability Group; Declan Ihehaire, Activists for Good Governance; and Ochiaga Jude, Centre for Ethics and Good Governance, among others.
They noted that aside from the EFCC’s penchant for disobedience of court orders, the situation has reached an embarrassing height where the Commission’s boss, Bawa, has been committed to prison more than once within two months for clear breach of the extant orders of the Court.
They said, “EFCC’s Gestapo-style regime of disobeying court orders must stop. Nigeria is not a banana republic. Attempts by institutions of state to ridicule the country and make it seem like a lawless fiefdom must be resisted by all. The EFCC seems to be allowing itself to be used as an instrument of political witchunt as it targets some individuals more than many others.
“Some of our organizations have submitted several petitions to the Commission, which it has refused to act on even when you sit with them to reason on the merits of those petitions. Once there is a political interest the whole processes of investigation and litigation become politicized.
“The Commission seems only to act with gusto against perceived political enemies of some powerful political forces in the country rather than being neutral and professional. For instance, the Ogun state Assembly Speaker was bundled Gestapo-style to Abuja on corruption allegations while several similar petitions elsewhere have been left untouched by the Commission. Where is the justice, the impartiality and the professionalism?”
This culture of impunity as consistently exhibited by the EFCC Chairman continues to ridicule Nigeria in the comity of nations and sabotage efforts at attracting foreign direct investment. Investors only go to jurisdictions where the rule of law and respect for human rights are guaranteed while shunning countries where ‘rule of men’ predominate,” they added.
While insisting that “he who comes into equity must come with clean hands”, the CSOs specifically stated, “We note that by the continued disobedience of the orders of the Courts, Mr. AbdulRasheed Bawa and the EFCC have displayed utter contempt for our courts and the country’s judicial system. It is ironic that these are the same courts the EFCC routinely runs to for orders which they zealously implement in the discharge of their mandate under the EFCC Act.”
“It is not for EFCC and its leadership to pick and choose which court orders to obey or disregard. That is an invitation to anarchy,” they maintained.