EFCC Absolves New Chairman, Bawa Of Allegations Of Graft|The Republican News

EFCC new boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa

By Olalekan Adetayo,Eniola Akinkuotu and Sunday Aborisade

The  Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday absolved its new Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, of allegations of corruption.

A few hours after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), 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, Mr 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 PUNCH recalls that 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.”

The PUNCH 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, Mr 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, who spoke to The PUNCH, 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.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, confirmed this in an interview with The PUNCH.

One of our correspondents had sought to know the fate of Magu following Buhari’s nomination of  Bawa as the new Chairman of the EFCC.

He had asked whether Magu, a police officer, who was probed by the Salami panel would be recommended for trial or would be returning to the Nigeria Police Force with the announcement of a replacement.

In response, Shehu said, “There is going to be a White Paper on the report of the Justice Salami Judicial Commission of Inquiry and the responsibility for doing that is with the office of the Chief of Staff, Prof Gambari.

“That is being done with the supervision of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

“The question you asked about the suspended Chairman, Ibrahim Magu’s fate will be determined by a decision of the President upon the receipt of the White Paper.”

Earlier in the day, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, had through a statement quoted  Buhari as naming Bawa as the substantive EFCC chairman.

Adesina, in the statement titled, “President Buhari requests Senate to confirm Abdulrasheed Bawa as EFCC boss,” noted that the President had requested the Senate to confirm Bawa’s nomination.

The statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Senate to confirm Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa as substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

“In a letter to President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, the President said he was acting in accordance with Paragraph 2(3) of Part1, CAP E1 of EFCC Act 2004.

“Bawa, 40, is a trained EFCC investigator with vast experience in the investigation and prosecution of Advance Fee Fraud cases, official corruption, bank fraud, money laundering, and other economic crimes.

“He has undergone several specialised training in different parts of the world, and was one of the pioneer EFCC Cadet Officers in 2005.

“Bawa holds a B.Sc degree in Economics, and Masters in International Affairs and Diplomacy.”

The statement was silent on Magu’s fate, prompting one of our correspondents to seek the clarification from the Presidency.

The Justice Salami panel was set up in July 2020 to investigate various allegations of wrongdoing against Magu.

The panel submitted its report to the President on November 20, 2020.

‌Salami had, while submitting the report, said the panel received 46 petitions and memoranda from individuals and organisations with complaints against the suspended acting Chairman, EFCC or both.

He added that Magu and 113 witnesses appeared and testified before the commission.

The President, while receiving the report of the panel, lamented that corruption was present almost everywhere and at many levels of government, describing the situation as the sad reality confronting the nation.

Among other recommendations, the panel had recommended that in appointing a new chairman for the commission, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies and core staff of the EFCC as provided in the EFCC establishment Act of 2004.

It noted that the four chairmen of EFCC since inception were from the police.

Bawa, who was announced on Tuesday as Magu’s replacement, is a core staff member of the EFCC as suggested by Salami-led panel.

Recall that apart from the probe by the Justice Salami panel, Magu is also being investigated by the Code of Conduct Bureau.

He appeared before the CCB on December 4, 2020to answer questions on his assets declaration.

The CCB had earlier invited Magu asking him to appear on November 17, 2020  with documents comprising, acknowledgement slips of all his assets declaration since he joined the public service, copies of his appointment letter, acceptance, records of service and pay slips from January to May, 2020, as well as all title documents of his landed assets both developed and undeveloped.

But in response, Magu had requested an extension of the invitation on the grounds  that some of the documents being requested from him had been seized by the Department of State Services and Justice Salami-led panel

He stated that the DSS removed the documents from his office while he was in detention following his suspension from office in order to face the Salami probe panel.

The suspended EFCC boss stated this in his two letters dated November 16 and 17, 2020 sent to the CCB Chairman, Prof Muhammad Isah, to explain his inability to honour the November 17, 2020 invitation by the bureau.

His lawyer, Mr Wahab Shittu, authored the two letters on behalf of his client.

New EFCC boss will be screened in plenary – Senate President

Meanwhile, the President of the Senate on Tuesday said that the screening of the newly appointed Chairman of the EFCC would be done at plenary.

Lawan said screening the new EFCC boss in plenary was in line with the Senate tradition.

Lawan stated this on Tuesday when he read the official communication from the

President seeking the Senate’s confirmation for Bawa as the substantive Chairman of the  EFCC.

10 EFCC officials remain on suspension as Buhari appoints new chair

Also, at least 10 officials of the EFCC have remained on suspension for the last six months, earning no salary while the Presidency has yet to say anything about their fate, The PUNCH has learnt.

Besides Magu, the President also suspended the Secretary of the commission, Mr Ola Olukoyede; and eight others amid a probe into allegations of financial impropriety.

The affected persons who were nicknamed ‘Magu boys’ have not been earning salary while their fate remains hanging in the balance.

Meanwhile, Mr. Tosin Ojaomo, a lawyer to Magu, says his client has not yet been sacked by the President.

Ojaomo said this during an interview with The PUNCH while reacting to the appointment of Bawa.

Ojaomo said Magu had only been suspended by the President, adding that till date, he had neither received a letter of termination nor further instruction.

He said, “Magu has not yet been sacked by the President. He was put on suspension pending the outcome of the probe by the panel. He has not yet been sacked.”

When asked if it was true that Bawa was a cousin to the AGF, Ojaomo said he was not sure but that was the widespread belief.

He, however, said it was public knowledge that Bawa was among the detectives who appeared before the Salami-led panel to give evidence against Magu.

Magu, who served as acting chairman of the EFCC from 2015 to 2020, was rejected twice by the Senate.

He was later suspended along with several others for allegedly mismanaging funds of the commission, an allegation which he vehemently denied.

The panel made several recommendations but the report has not been made public till date. (Punch)

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EFCC Boss Appointed By Buhari Was Arrested For Theft Of Confiscated Assets, Promoted By Magu |RN

Abdulrasheed Bawa

The new EFCC Chief appointed by Buhari, Abdulrasheed Bawa was arrested for theft of confiscated assets and selling of these assets and pocketing the money accruing from such assets, while the cases of the ceased assets were still in Court.

In a publication by People’s Gazette which were seen by The Republican News, it detaied the scale of money made by him through relooting looted assets.

Below is details of that case publish in 2020 before he was appointed the Head of EFCC office in Lagos.

Abdulrasheed Bawa’s transfer to the agency’s most prestigious bureau came amidst probe of his untidy involvement in depletion of confiscated assets.


Abdulrasheed Bawa, head of EFCC field office in Lagos now under investigation for alleged loot of recovered assets
The management board of the EFCC confirmed a controversial senior detective to a prestigious appointment despite a slate of unsettled corruption allegations and a cacophony of colleagues who cried foul over the potential damage the agency could suffer if it continues to reward questionable conduct within its ranks.

The anti-graft office asked Abdulrasheed Bawa to lead its field office in Lagos with effect from August 8, despite an active probe of his alleged theft of confiscated proceeds of ill-gotten loot at his previous appointment in Port-Harcourt, multiple sources briefed on the matter told Peoples Gazette.

Mr. Bawa was in-charge of the Port-Harcourt zonal office last year when dozens of petrol-bearing trucks that were confiscated from suspected looters were abruptly auctioned off to his proxies at “ridiculous prices,” sources said.

Three of his junior colleagues who were alarmed by the sheer mismanagement of priced public assets and other suspicious acts of Mr. Bawa’s took immediate steps to curb his excesses by filing anonymous complaints to the headquarters in Abuja, the Gazette understands.

He was subsequently arrested and detained for several days in Port-Harcourt before Ibrahim Magu, erstwhile head of the agency, ordered his transfer to the agency’s training school in Abuja pending conclusion of investigation.

The months-long investigation into Mr Bawa’s alleged corruption and a jarring crackdown on Mr Magu and other ex-senior officials of the EFCC were yet to be concluded when he was tapped for the top job in Lagos, a development that underscores how arbitrary power, unmoored to a transparent standard, can propel individual careers in a frightening miscarriage of justice.

“The government said Magu and others were arrested and flushed out to save the EFCC from institutional damage,” an official said. “But how can you secure people’s confidence if you only trade one crooked officer for another?”

Five anti-graft officials who spoke with the Gazette for this story wished to remain anonymous, citing their active engagement status and a lack of clearance to speak to journalists on a matter that was still under investigation. The Gazette agreed not to identify them in accordance with its policy on anonymous sources.

‘Loot re-looted’

Mr. Bawa was accused of selling at least 244 trucks worth between N20-30 million each to his proxies at N100,000, or slightly more, per unit.

A proxy sold one of the tankers to a businessman in Ibadan for N14.8 million, officials said, lamenting that the businessman has been evading invitation and the agency is reluctant to declare him wanted in order not to draw public attention to the investigation.

Officials said Mr. Bawa’s handling of the trucks had deprived the Nigerian people of at least N4.88 billion in potential loot recovery.

“If you take a conservative approach and multiply the trucks by N20 million each, even though some were far above that price, you will arrive at N4.88 billion for the 244 trucks he sold out,” a senior EFCC official said. “So Bawa is being compensated for ensuring that nearly N5 billion did not go into the public treasury.”

EFCC’s overhead for 2019 was N3.6 billion, which was also enough to cover its staff strength of 4,962, officials said.

Procedurally, recovered cash and assets are returned to the public coffers upon conclusion of forfeiture proceedings in court. While some of the 244 trucks have been declared as proceeds of corruption by the Federal High Court, the Gazette learnt that forfeiture proceedings on most of them have yet to be concluded before Mr. Bawa sold them off.

For nearly two weeks, Mr. Bawa declined multiple requests for comment from the Gazette for this story.

Wilson Uwujaren, chief spokesman for the EFCC, said he could not provide information on the status of the probe and the decision of moving a subject of an active investigation to Lagos.

“Since the issues of assets are already before the presidential panel, for now we cannot comment on those things,” Mr. Uwujaren told the Gazette on Thursday afternoon.

But in January, Mr. Uwujaren defended Mr. Bawa’s action publicly, saying there was no wrongdoing in the sale of the trucks. Nonetheless, he said in the same statement that a probe had been ordered into the suspicious auction.

Name dropped

Mr. Bawa, a deputy chief detective superintendent, was first confronted by Ola Olukoyede, then EFCC secretary, about the whereabouts of petrol tankers that were under forfeiture by Port-Harcourt zonal office in late 2019, multiple sources, including one official who was present, told the Gazette.

Ola Olukoyede

Ola Olukoyede, EFCC secretary on suspension from office. He investigated the controversial sale of recovered assets [Photo Credit: EFCC Twitter Account]
Mr. Olukoyede had received complaints that Mr. Bawa was tampering with seized assets that were still undergoing forfeiture proceedings in court. It is illegal to take possession of a citizen’s assets without a due process, which involves getting a federal judge to declare such assets as proceeds of public loot.

“He was asked to explain what happened to over 240 trucks that the zonal office was trying to secure their forfeitures,” a source said. “But he was unable to explain.”

The source said Mr. Bawa initially told Mr. Olukoyede that he got the directives to sell the trucks from Mr. Magu, but he declined to write that claim in his statement.

“It turned out that he was just dropping names, or he was trying to protect Magu,” a source said. “He refused to write it in his statement that it was Magu who sent him.”

The source said Mr. Olukoyede immediately called Mr. Magu, who was away on an official trip at the time, with details of what transpired in Port-Harcourt. After concluding his findings, Mr. Olukoyede returned to Abuja, expecting Mr. Magu to take action upon his return from the trip.

Mr Olukoyede, who has since been suspended from office as part of the raging presidential probe,  declined comments for this story.

When he returned, Mr. Magu made an urgent trip to Port-Harcourt, and Mr. Bawa was removed as the zonal head the next day.

“He was ordered to be detained in Port-Harcourt for several days,” another source familiar with the matter said. “He was then asked to report at the training school in Abuja, which we thought would be the end of his career.”

Mr. Magu did not return a request for comment. But in its January statement, the EFCC said Mr. Magu did not benefit from the controversial sale of the trucks, but instead allowed a transparent process to play out.

‘Unmerited and highly political’

Anti-graft detectives, mostly deputy chief detective superintendents, said they thought posting Mr. Bawa to the training school, known as ‘Siberia’ amongst personnel, would take him out of circulation.

They were, however, “disappointed” when a posting circular on August 8 said he had been transferred to Lagos.

An internal memo confirms Mr. Bawa’s transfer to Lagos on August 8, 2020.
“We saw him on the list as the new head of Lagos office, and everyone revolted,” the source said. “But our revolt was a quiet one.”

As a member of the elite ‘Course 1’, EFCC’s first set of cadets now mostly at grade-level 13, Mr. Bawa has flaunted his association with Mr Magu, and once acclaimed himself ‘anointed leader’ of the so-called ‘Magu Boys’, sources said.

Mr. Magu led the EFCC from November 2015 until his disgraceful ouster on July 7. He was accused of grossly enriching himself while arresting and prosecuting other Nigerians for graft.

Although a government panel that was raised to hear the charges has yet to return its recommendations, Mr. Magu strongly denied all corruption and abuse of power allegations and asked his lawyers to file court processes aimed at clearing his name.

Still, serving EFCC officials who believe Mr. Magu deserved his inglorious exit said his collaborators within the anti-graft office should have equally suffered a similar fate.

But rather than being affected by his ties to Mr. Magu, Mr. Bawa has instead been propelled to the very job he had deemed beyond reach, his colleagues said.

“He was a don of Magu Boys,” one of his colleagues said. “But he thought his career had finished when he was caught in Port-Harcourt, detained for days and later transferred to the EFCC training school in Karu.”

The EFCC’s zonal office in Lagos is seen as the agency’s main hub of operations, earning a long-standing dread as the nemesis of advanced-fee crooks, corporate racketeers, money launderers and other economic criminals in the commercial capital.

Mr. Bawa’s elevation as the head of Lagos zone, ‘de-facto vice-chairman’ as officers described it to the Gazette, stemmed from his foamy political ties than fortitude, sources said.

Despite being a close associate of Mr. Magu’s, Mr. Bawa managed to maintain a working relationship with Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s controversial attorney-general who spent years waging supremacy war against the former head of EFCC, according to two EFCC officials familiar with his dealings.

Nigeria’s Attorney General, Abubakar Malami
Nigeria’s Attorney General, Abubakar Malami [Photo Credit: The Guardian Nigeria]
“He was friends with both enemies,” an official said. “It is now clear that his transfer to Lagos is unmerited and highly political.”

Mr. Malami, himself a subject of multiple corruption claims he has denied, finally realised his plans to remove Mr. Magu from office after years of confrontation. He has since taken over the activities of the anti-graft agency and is believed to be behind a slate of policy changes aimed at undoing Mr. Magu’s legacy.

Both Mr. Malami and a spokesperson for his office did not return requests seeking comments about the attorney-general’s relationship with Mr. Bawa.

‘Joke of the year’

The EFCC has been Nigeria’s most prominent bulwark against endemic corruption since it was introduced by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003.

EFCC Head Office, Abuja. Head Office Complex of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Tuesday (15/5/18) 02538/15/5/2018/Callistus Ewelike/NAN
Since inauguration, its successive heads have been dogged by the spectre of being disgraced out of office, often on allegations of corruption they were detailed to combat.

From Nuhu Ribadu and Farida Waziri to Ibrahim Lamorde and Mr. Magu, every leadership has been mired in controversies. Shortly before his removal from office in 2015, the Nigerian Senate said Mr. Lamorde had mismanaged over $5 billion in public funds. He denied the allegations as a smear campaign.

Fatima Ibrahim, an anti-corruption activist, said the EFCC cannot be taken seriously if its leadership cannot stay above temptation.

“It is now very important that they focus on fighting corruption within their ranks,” Ms. Ibrahim said, decrying Mr. Bawa’s appointment as “an insult to Nigerians.”

“They have promoted someone who has been under investigation for corrupt practices to lead an anti-corruption drive,” Ms. Ibrahim said. “This would be the joke of the year but for its serious ramifications for the country.”

Muhammadu Buhari became Nigeria’s president in 2015 on the back of a promise to check corruption, but his government has continued to wither from one corruption scandal to another.

President Buhari -2
President Buhari has faced calls to do more to check corruption in his government (Photo Credit: Twitter)
Other than Messrs. Malami, Magu and Bawa, Mr. Buhari’s top administration secretary, Babachir Lawal, was disgraced out of office in October 2017 after being exposed for stealing funds earmarked for displaced victims of Boko Haram.

Mr. Lawal’s dismissal came months after Mr. Buhari had spent months exonerating the then-secretary to the government against federal lawmakers who wanted him fired and prosecuted for the theft, later widely dubbed as the grass-cutting scandal.

“For a government that keep repeating its unproven bona fides on corruption, there have been too many corruption scandals under this government for anyone to take it seriously,” Ms. Ibrahim said.

Senior aides regularly dismiss criticism that Mr. Buhari’s anti-corruption strategy is a ruse, saying the president does not hesitate to remove, and sometimes recommend for prosecution, any official found with tangible claims of theft or abuse of power.

It was not immediately clear whether or not the presidential panel probing alleged corruption and abuses at the EFCC was aware of Mr. Bawa’s ongoing probe. A spokesperson for the panel did not return a request seeking comments.

Source: People’s Gazette

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BREAKING: Buhari Appoints Abdulrasheed Bawa As The New EFCC Chief |The Republican News

■ Asks Senate to confirm him to seal Magu’s ouster

By Jude Johnson

President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Senate to confirm Abdulrasheed Bawa as the substantive Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

What this means is that the suspended and embattled former acting chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, is effectively ousted from the system.

This was disclosed on Tuesday in a statement by Femi Adeaina, that Bawa, 40, is a thorough-bred and EFCC-trained investigator.

Read the full statement…

The new anti-corruption Czar, Abdulrasheed Bawa

President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Senate to confirm Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa as substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In a letter to President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, the President said he was acting in accordance with Paragraph 2(3) of Part1, CAP E1 of EFCC Act 2004.

Bawa, 40, is a trained EFCC investigator with vast experience in the investigation and prosecution of Advance Fee Fraud cases, official corruption, bank fraud, money laundering, and other economic crimes.

He has undergone several specialized trainings in different parts of the world, and was one of the pioneer EFCC Cadet Officers in 2005.

Bawa holds a B.Sc degree in Economics, and Masters in International Affairs and Diplomacy.

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)
February 16, 2021

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