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Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa

For his ground-breaking reforms and quiet advances in tackling economic and financial crimes, Civil Society Groups for Good Governance give Abdulrasheed Bawa a pat on the back.

By Dele Oyewale.

If progress and advancement could throw a party, they would have treated Abdulrasheed Bawa, Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to a lavish reception and for some good reasons. In just two years of mounting the saddle of leadership of the EFCC, he has initiated and achieved far-reaching reforms, which even his harshest critics could not deny. Now, the facts are throbbing with life in the number of convictions, recoveries and firmer architecture of the anti-graft war.

In law enforcement, progress is not measured by emotive appeals, spurious claims, partisan considerations or prebendal posturing . Progress is made by the realities of facts and display of verifiable accomplishments. In 2020, the preceding year of Bawa’s appointment as EFCC’s Chair, conviction figure of the Commission was 976. The highest conviction figure of the Commission before his appointment was in 2019 when the EFCC secured 1280 convictions. However, in 2021, just one year into his leadership of the Commission, conviction figure rose to 2220 and even sky-rocketed to 3785 in 2022! These figures are available in our courts. They are unassailable facts that are open for verification. This is just one leg of his multi-layered success as a leader.

Talking about increasing conviction of fraudsters by the EFCC, the point being made is that the Commission is giving fraudsters a wild chase. What goes into the trial of suspects is not a lazy man’s slumber or the dreary pace of a laggard. It is simply hard work and painstaking engagements. A conviction figure of 3785 ,in one single year, is the crowning glory of successful investigation, arrest, prosecution and conviction. All these take courage, commitments and integrity of operations. With the rate the EFCC is going against economic and financial crimes, the operating habitat of fraudsters is fast becoming unbearable and Bawa is the grand commander of these onslaughts.

Sometimes, it is needful for a book of records to be opened, not for any self-adulatory purpose but for truths to have their courses. By April 2023, the EFCC will be 20 years old. One of the major planks of progress of the Commission is the digitalisation and institutionalisation of its processes, procedures and operations that only came on stream within two years of Bawa’s leadership . Today, the EFCC is shoulder to shoulder in operational dynamics among law enforcement agencies in the world through good thinking and visionary vistas of its founding fathers and brilliant successors like Bawa.

It is therefore not surprising that, Civil Society Groups for Good Governance , comprising individual organisations such as, Initiative for Leadership and Economic Watch in Nigeria; Centre for Peace, Transparency and Accountability, Alice Nanny Development Foundation, Ubeloka Network Against Drug Abuse & Trafficking Initiative ,African Poverty Alleviation Initiative and others recently came together to salute the astute leadership strides of Bawa.

President of the Groups, Comrade Dominic Ogakwu frowned against sponsored campaigns against the works of the EFCC and its leadership. According to him, there has been “ tremendous improvement, achievements and performance of the EFCC” under Bawa’s watch. He went on to denounce some dissenting voices in a part of the country, which “ through misunderstanding” of the works of the EFCC, went on a campaign of vendetta against the leadership of the Commission. “ We discovered that the campaigns were antics of politicians looking for a cover-up for their wrong doings”, he said.

To all intents and purposes, Ogakwu truly spoke the minds of every patriotic and well-intentioned Nigerian that has been following the pace of works of the EFCC in the Bawa’s dispensation. Aside phenomenal convictions graphically explained earlier, recoveries from fraudulent and corrupt elements across the country have been monumental. Some few months ago, a nationwide disposal of assets linked to corrupt Nigerians was done in the full glare of the public. Vehicles, houses, vessels, barges, electronic devices and others were auctioned to the admiration of Nigerians home and abroad. The integrity of the auctioning could not be faulted by anyone ,thereby bringing to a close, needless arguments and cynicism about the destination of recovered assets by the Commission. For a leader that midwifed this kind of epochal development, appreciation ought to come for him in torrential proportion.

This is why it seems preposterous that some funny campaigners could allow themselves to be mobilised for purposes that cannot stand the tests of sincerity. Agreed, corruption does fight back. However, the fight- back should come with facts written in bold letters. At the EFCC today, the gale of internal renascence is massive. In two years, the Commission has evolved into an institution. A Standard Operating Procedure undergirding the entire processes and procedures of activities is now in place. There is now little or no use of discretion to handle any issue. This naturally deals a mortal blow on arbitrariness and sleight of hands and the result is a process-driven system capable of yielding optimum results to every stakeholder.

At this point, it is germane to ask these questions:
where is impunity in the works and conduct of Abdulrasheed Bawa? Is it in his creative and resourceful handling of issues or in his insistence that no stone should be left unturned in effective case management or efficient use of resources? Is it in the attention being paid to details and cracking of hard nuts in investigation of all manner of suspects? Better still, is it in smoking out all manner of fraudsters from their hideouts and serving them the treatments their crimes deserve? The claim that the EFCC’s Chair is disobeying court orders is simply unfair and uncharitable because every stakeholder in the judiciary knows that this is far from the truth. The EFCC has been compliant with and respectful of court orders in all its operations. This is why Ogakwu’s loud appreciation of the hard works of the Commission under Bawa’s watch should be seen for what it is: affirmation of confidence and courageous expression of truths in all its forms.

In all sincerity, going by the quantum of achievements and velocity of success of the EFCC’s boss within two years, it would have been unnatural for detractors not to raise their voices against the Commission. When trustees of power are being asked to account for the use of resources under their watch, there is bound to be a fight back. When compromises are rejected and integrity is embraced in the investigation and prosecution of corruption cases, there is bound to be name-calling and character assassination. When ill-gotten assets are forfeited by those who thought they could not be touched, tough talks and rented hostilities are bound to come forth. The onus, therefore, is on the discerning public not to buy poison decorated as perfume. Ogakwu and his patriotic groups have spoken and the advancing pace of Bawa will surely be strengthened and quickened for the continued success of the anti-corruption war.

*** Dele Oyewale is an Assistant Director in the Publc Affairs Department of the EFCC

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