To combat financial crimes and looting of the public treasury governmental and non-governmental agents, Nigeria created the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2004 during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Since it was established via an act of the National Assembly, the agency has become a centre of attraction with allegations of corruption touching on the integrity of its successive heads.
On Wednesday, President Bola Tinubu approved the suspension of Abdulrasheed Bawa, former chairman of the EFCC, citing the need to investigate “weighty allegations of abuse of office levelled against him”.
While the government did not disclose details of such weighty allegations, FIJ takes a look at previous financial scandals Bawa had been mired in.
Before reaching the summit of his career in the anti-graft office, Bawa had a baggage of weighty allegations that could have precluded him from any consideration for the position.
He allegedly sold 244 confiscated petrol trucks to his cronies in 2020. The vehicles were seized from crime perpetrators when he was heading the Port-Harcourt Zonal office of the EFCC.
According to Peoples Gazette, an online newspaper, the suspended EFCC helmsman allegedly auctioned the trucks “worth between N20-30 million [sic] each to his proxies at N100,000, or slightly more, per unit.”
The newspaper quoted a senior official as saying, “If you take a conservative approach and multiply the trucks by N20 million each, even though some were far above that price, you will arrive at N4.88 billion for the 244 trucks he sold out. So, Bawa is being compensated for ensuring that nearly N5 billion did not go into the public treasury.”
The 43-year-old allegedly handed over the pricey trucks to his acolytes at a time the vehicles were subject of a forfeiture litigation before a federal high court.
Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC acting chairman at the time, ordered his detention in Port-Harcourt, where he spent days being questioned over the allegations.
Convinced that a man of Bawa’s conduct was unfit to uphold the foundational principles of the commission, some staff members of the commission in Rivers State revolted against him and asked higher authorities to take appropriate actions. Their revolt, however, ended in futility.
The staff realised the futility of their protest when Bawa, who was initially redeployed to the agency’s training academy in Abuja, was listed to head the agency’s Lagos State office, the busiest command of the commission.
A presidential committee set up to investigate all the allegations against Bawa had seen nothing incriminating against him, a source told Daily Trust.
The last few days have witnessed a scenario played out between Bello Matawalle, a former Governor of Zamfara State, and Bawa. The former accused the latter of requesting $2 million bribe.
Although the former governor did not deny the allegations of public funds diversion against him, he said he had evidence that Bawa asked him to pay the bribe to stop him from being questioned after exiting office.
Matawalle told BBC Hausa that the EFCC was only interested in investigating former governors, leaving federal officials unchecked.
The EFCC alleged that Matawalle diverted N70 billion from the state’s purse before leaving office. Following through the allegation, the commission seized a couple of exotic cars from his residence.