Rule of law: 120 CSOs, 20 lawyers insist Bawa must step aside 

Frontline anti-corruption civil society organisations, numbering over 130, have resumed their call for the sack of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Abdulrasheed Bawa, over alleged politicisation of the commission, disobedience of court orders and infringement on human rights of Nigerians, among others. 

The activists, who were joined by over 20 constitutional lawyers, led by Barr. Mogbojuri Kayode of the Citizens Rights Advocacy Group, noted that the desperation of Bawa to save his face after dishonourable acts in office had taken a laughable turn, insisting that no amount of “purchased CSOs’ vote of confidence” would cover the truth about the abnormalities being condoned in EFCC under its current leadership. 

Speaking at a joint press conference in Lagos on Tuesday, they said the EFCC has become so desperate to launder what they called a “rapidly diminishing image of Bawa, to the extent that the commission’s spokesman laughably signed a press release recently, informing Nigerians that a Civil Society Organisation had passed a vote of confidence on its chairman. 

“Isn’t it the job of the media to see that and independently report?” they asked. 

The leaders of the struggle said it was a thing of honour that, despite the immense pressure mounted on leaders of the “Bawa Must Go” protests to abandon their objective cause, over 120 of the main actors had remained resolute while more had joined in the interest of the rule of law. 

“As this is expected to ease the pain of the masses, we hereby call on the President to also wade into the seeming fixation of the EFCC on certain individuals and the desperation of the Chairman of the Commission to score cheap political goals through unwarranted media trials of non-convicted individuals in the country. He should direct Mr. Bawa to step aside until he purges himself of contempt as ruled by a High Court,” spokesperson for the coalition, Olufemi Lawson, said in a speech delivered on behalf of the activists. 

Chairman, Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), Debo Adeniran, specifically noted that his organisation had, from the outset, alerted the National Assembly to the fact that Bawa was unfit for the post of EFCC chairman, over alleged corrupt practices and his rumoured relationship with the Attorney-General of the Federation who was believed to have masterminded the travails and eventually removal of Bawa’s predecessor, Ibrahim Magu. 

He stated that Bawa’s alleged misconduct in office is a confirmation of CACOL’s fears of his being a misfit for the position. 

Adeniran, who made copies of CACOL’s initial objection to Bawa’s appointment available to the press, said, “Up till now, he (Bawa) has not cleared himself of all the allegations against him and he has been made to catch other people who committed offences that are not as grievous as the ones that he has been accused of.

“And on top of all of these, he has been behaving as if he is an authority to himself. And we are now saying that, no matter how highly placed you are, no matter how influential you are, you still are duty-bound to operate within the confines of the laws of our own country. That is the Constitution.”