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CSOs fault call for EFCC chair removal

Five Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have condemned attempts to remove Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), from office. Under the…

Five Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have condemned attempts to remove Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), from office.

Under the aegis of the Civil Society Alliance for Eradication of Corruption, the groups made their position known at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday.

The CSOs include African Leadership Strategy & Transparency Development Initiative (ALSTDI); Transparency Watch; Civil Society Alliance for Transparency and Development; Northern Nigeria Good Governance Forum and Network of Young Female Leaders of Ecowas Community.

Some groups had since February started a campaign for Bawa’s removal, over alleged disobedience to court orders and human rights abuse.

But led by Nelson Ossaieze of ALSTDI, the coalition contended that the call for Bawa’s removal was unacceptable.

Ossaieze said: “As an anti-corruption coalition, we have noticed with pain, how interagency rivalry and ‘cabals’ have severely stalled the operation of the commission in the fight against corruption. This is seen in the way and manner they have severely influenced the outcome of investigations and situations whereby the commission goes ahead, they come up with procured court injunctions to stall further investigations.

“This attitude has stalled several anti-corruption battles being investigated upon by the commission, and has often at times led to collision of interest as the Bawa is left with no option to either respect court order or go ahead with the investigation so as to recover the looted loot.

“The call for sack and removal of Bawa at this transition period is a wrong idea that will further defeat the already established fight against some political office holders most of whom will no longer enjoy immunity and thus makes investigation easily done.

“Bawa should be allowed to complete the ongoing investigation of some of the political office holders, including that of the ruling party. We are sure these are part of those calling for his removal, which we stand against and advise the outgoing government to ensure that such calls are not listened to but instead make him focus more on delivering his mandate.

“The flimsy excuse under which they are calling for his removal is selective disobedience to court rulings. We all know, the standard rule if such occurs, it’s for the complainant to approach court and charge him for contempt not call for outright removal.

“At times, we also know that under corrupt charges some court rules need to be further tested before being obeyed as it can truncate an ongoing investigation.

“Under the same Bawa, the commission has recorded 3,785 convictions and still counting, but to our surprise this was not celebrated by anyone but rather a frivolous call for his removal is what we are seeing. His removal now will further portray us in bad light in the international community as not serious enough to build a strong institution that we need to build to ensure that our looted funds are recovered and plunged back to the economy.

“We also, wish to advice the President elect not to listen to this nay sayers as Bawa will no doubt assist in bringing to book and make to face justice hidden corruption and recovery of loots that the government will need to stabilize with because we can’t be on a borrowing spleen again as a nation.

“The war against corruption especially under President Buhari has its milestones, prospects and no doubt challenges hence the need to uphold and sustain what has been done by EFCC under Bawa and ensure those accused are called up to clear their names.

“This we must sustain, and in doing that we hereby pass a vote of confidence on Bawa and urge him to carry on with delivery of his mandate and further deepen the anti-graft agency.”

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