‘Don’t be used as political tool to undermine, attack political rivals’- Transparency International Advises Bawa as it Sets Agenda for New EFCC Helmsman

Abdulrasheed Bawa Photo
Abdulrasheed Bawa, the new chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC

…Tasks him on Accountability, Transparency in Management of Recovered Assets.

Global anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International, TI has come up with its agenda for the new chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, 40-year-old Abdulrasheed Bawa who was grilled and confirmed by the Senate of the National Assembly on Wednesday. The TI tasked the new EFCC helmsman to ensure thorough investigation of cases before going to court, “good synergy” between the EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies, as well as transparency and accountability in the management of recovered assets which it regretted had been lacking, and therefore been of grave concern to it.

Setting agenda for the new leadership of the anti-graft agency Wednesday night while sharing his perspective as guest on Channels Television’s News at 10, on the appointment and expectations from the youthful EFCC boss, Head of Transparency International Nigeria, and Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, (CISLAC) Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, identified some of the challenges confronting the commission which he must address in order to succeed.

Rafsanjani believed Bawa’s appointment “is an opportunity for the young people in Nigeria to demonstrate that they can actually be better than those ones that have been mismanaging the country”.

He noted that “Some of the challenges that the commission actually has is that sometimes, the commission goes to court without thorough investigation of some cases; and when they get to court, the case usually gets dismissed. So, one of the things that we task Mr. Bawa is to ensure that before EFCC goes to court, there is a thorough investigation on some of these cases that they are going to prosecute. That is number one. Number two; there has not been good synergy between the other anti-corruption agencies and the EFCC, and we hope that with his coming, he would be able to establish that good synergy between the EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies.

“Also, from the international perspective, there is also need for the commission to actually establish a good cooperation with the international community and international organizations especially in the area of assets recovery because a lot of assets are out there and a lot of civil society organizations have been making efforts to support government to ensure that these assets are returned. But one point that we are concerned with is lack of sufficient or greater accountability in the management of the recovered assets. So, we task him to ensure that there is better transparency and accountability in the recovered assets.

“Again also, there is need for him to ensure that the EFCC Act is amended to ensure that the board is in place, ensure oversight and ensure proper regulation in the conduct of the commission. Also, I think it is important that training and retraining of the staff of EFCC is carried out on regular basis. Again, the welfare of the EFCC staff needs to be enhanced; we need to give them the necessary incentive and support. For example, they are putting their lives without life insurance and I think it is necessary that the EFCC is able to take care of its staff to avoid the possible negative incentives of compromising their work”.

The Transparency International also suggested that “one of the major things that the commission has to do in order to create a good reputation is to ensure that the commission is totally independent without allowing political influence to come and hijack or interfere in the work of the commission”.

Rafsanjani further recommended that the commission, under Bawa’s leadership, should begin to have public engagement, positing that “The freedom of information Act is out there and we hope that they would be able to engage in public education because one of the challenges we have in the battle against corruption is that there is little or nothing really in terms of public education, sensitization, and ensuring that Nigerians did not even commit the crime before wasting tax payer’s money to go to court and pursue those cases. But if you prevent the corruption from happening, that will go a long way”.

According to TI, “We believe that if the new Chair is able to have these agenda on his table, he would be able to have a very good working relationship with other anti-corruption agencies, with the international partners; and of course here in Nigeria, many anti-corruption organizations will want to support them to succeed as we have always been doing”.

On whether Bawa’s age would be an advantage, the TI representative said he absolutely agreed that there is a potential for Nigerian youths to play a very important role in the development of this country “and he, being one of the key officers that were attached to investigations, and also investigated high profile cases of corruption in the commission, I think it is not out of place if he is given this responsibility”.

He said although there are challenges that he has to face in order to create a good impression and be able to handle the situation in the commission very well, coupled with expectations from Nigerians, he believed that if he’s able to address them, he would be able to succeed.

“So, we believe that it is an opportunity for the young people in Nigeria to demonstrate that they can actually be better than those ones that have been mismanaging the country. And him, as 40-year-old, it is also a challenge for him to prove that he can lead by example; he can create an enabling environment for the young people to be seen as responsive and responsible people.

“So, we hope that his energy would be properly utilized, not being diverted to any other thing. This is the prayer that we are having, and the agenda that we are having. And we are hoping that he should focus and be more effective and be responsible and really respond to the law and ensure that he is not used as political tool to undermine or attack people that they consider their political rivals.

“If he’s able to do that, I can assure you that Nigerian people, the young people, would be proud of somebody who has been given that kind of responsibility”.

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