EFCC Finally Speaks On New Chairman’s Corruption Allegations

A few hours after President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as the EFCC chairman on Tuesday, there were reports of his involvement in corruption.

But the commission defended him, saying he had no corruption record.

The EFCC Spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said this in a statement on Tuesday while reacting to reports that Bawa was arrested and removed from his position as Port Harcourt zonal head of the commission for allegedly diverting 224 forfeited trucks.

The diversion of 224 forfeited trucks was one of the allegations levelled against Magu which was brought up before the Salami-led panel.

Bawa was also said to have appeared before the panel over the issue but said he had no hand in the auction of the assets as it was supervised by a different department.

The EFCC statement titled, ‘Abdulrasheed Bawa Has No Corruption Record – EFCC’ read in part, “The commission wishes to state categorically that Mr Bawa was never arrested or detained over sale of any assets.

“As zonal head of the Port Harcourt office of the commission in 2019, Bawa’s responsibilities did not include the sale of assets as the commission has a full-fledged Directorate of Assets Forfeiture and Recovery Management, which remit such matters.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the disposal of finally forfeited trucks in the Port Harcourt zonal office through public auction, was conducted after the exit of Bawa as zonal head. It is therefore illogical for him to have been indicted over an auction that was not superintended by him.

“The auction of trucks at the Port Harcourt Office was among the issues examined by the Justice Ayo Salami Panel, leading to the suspension of some officers of the commission. The commission, therefore, enjoins the public to disregard the false publication which is believed to be sponsored by mischief makers to impugn the integrity of the EFCC chairman-designate.”

It was learnt that a shake-up was imminent at the EFCC following the appointment of 40-year-old Abdulrasheed Bawa as the substantive Chairman of the EFCC.

Bawa succeeded Ibrahim Magu, who was suspended in July 2020 when the President set up a panel led by Justice Ayo Salami (retd.) to investigate allegations of corruptions against him.

Bawa, who joined the EFCC in 2005 and who currently serves as the Head of the Lagos EFCC zonal office, still has several officials senior to him, most of whom are policemen including the current acting Chairman of the EFCC, Umar Mohammed, who is 55 years old.

It was learnt that based on the Salami panel recommendation and in a bid to ensure that Bawa is given full control of the commission, many policemen would return to the Nigeria Police Force.

A former EFCC director said Bawa, who is currently a deputy chief detective superintendent, would have been a Divisional Police Officer if he were in the police force.

He said it would thus be difficult for senior police officers some of whom are deputy and assistant commissioners, to take orders from him.

The former director said, “Bawa is a member of Course 1 which is the first set of the EFCC detectives. They have been reporting to police officers since 2005 when they joined the EFCC. Bawa currently reports to the Head of Operations, Umar Mohammed, who is the acting chairman.

“I would not expect Mohammed to turn around to begin to take orders from Bawa. In the coming weeks and months, policemen would return to the Force while the core EFCC staff members will take over. That is what the Salami panel recommended and the President is already implementing it.”

On Tuesday, The PUNCH learnt that the President was waiting for a White Paper on the report of the Salami panel to decide the fate of Magu.

It was further learnt that the fate of embattled Magu would be determined by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari; and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who had been saddled with the responsibility of producing the White Paper.

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