The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday confirmed Abdulrasheed Bawa as the new head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), missing yet another opportunity to make a strong case against endemic corruption under President Muhammadu Buhari.
The lawmakers took the decision after a two-hour session on Wednesday, where Senate President Ahmad Lawan moved asked his colleagues consider the request of Mr. Buhari and confirm Mr. Bawa to the top job in line with Section 2 (3) of the EFCC Act 2003.
Mr. Bawa’s confirmation faced little opposition despite a slew of unresolved allegations of corruption which Peoples Gazette first exposed in September. The Gazette found how Mr. Bawa was summoned to the EFCC for selling over 240 confiscated trucks to his cronies in action, following which he was arrested and detained at the EFCC headquarters for several days. As further punishment, he was sent to the EFCC training academy by former acting chairman Ibrahim Magu, who has now been driven out of office following corruption charges of his own.
But on February 16, Mr. Buhari nominated Mr. Bawa to lead the EFCC, and the EFCC chief promptly launched an image-laundering campaign using several online and traditional platforms to tell flowery stories about his professionalism. The Senate confirmed him overwhelmingly on Wednesday afternoon.
Solomon Adeola, a ruling party senator from Lagos, was the only lawmaker who asked Mr. Bawa about the arrest which he subsequently denied. He also selling any asset recovered by the EFCC.
Mr. Bawa insisted on his qualifications for appointment as EFCC chairman by virtue of his qualifications, training, and rank in the commission, again denying another aspect of the Gazette’s investigation that exposed his ties to Attorney-General Abubakar Malami. Mr. Malami, a controversial politician with multiple corruption charges, has been locked in a fierce supremacy battle with Mr. Magu for years, eventually declaring victory when he convinced Mr. Buhari to abruptly remove the former acting chair from office in July 2020.
The Gazette learnt that Mr. Bawa was never investigated by the Senate before his confirmation, a development that reflects the institution’s history of sloppiness at confirming unscrupulous characters into public service.
But for the corruption charges that surfaced in early 2020, Mr. Bawa said he had a stellar and rapid career, becoming the first of the first cohort admitted into the EFCC in 2004 to lead the agency.
Yet, anti-corruption campaigners said Mr. Bawa’s rrecords as a subject of graft investigations and former detainee are all but assured to plague his leadership of the country’s foremost anti-graft office.