Civil society organisations demanding the sacking of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, over his disregard for court orders, resumed the call on Tuesday.
The activists during a joint press conference in Lagos, on Tuesday, stated that their demand was also connected to Bawa’s alleged politicisation of the EFCC and infringement on human rights of Nigerians.
The ‘Bawa Must Go’ protests are being led by the Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran; Executive Director, Zero Graft Centre, Kolawole Sanchez-Jude; Chairman, Coalition Against Corruption and Bad Governance, Toyin Raheem; Executive Director, Centre for Public Accountability, Olufemi Lawson; spokesperson for the Transparency and Accountability Group, Ayodeji Ologun; Director, Activists for Good Governance, Declan Ihehaire; and Ahmed Balogun of Media Rights Concern, among other.
The CSO were joined by lawyers, led by Mogbojuri Kayode of the Citizens Rights Advocacy Group.The protest against the EFCC chair began in February.
“It must also be noted clearly, that we are not opposed to the commission’s mandate to fight corruption, but we are opposed to the seeming politicisation of the agency under Mr. Bawa, its clear fixation on certain individuals in society, needless media trial, corruption within the agency, and the manner in which EFCC officials act above the law by corrupting our judicial processes with impunity.
“There is no greater corruption than trampling on the institutions that mediate among citizens and between them and the state. In the desperation to launder a rapidly diminishing image of Bawa, it is laughable that, recently, the commission’s spokesman signed a press release informing Nigerians that an unknown civil society organisation passed a vote of confidence on its chairman after our protests. Isn’t it the job of the media to see that and independently report?” the CSOs said in a statement.
But in a swift reaction, the Director, Media and Publicity, EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement on Tuesday, said, “The allegations are unfounded. These claims are being made by the same set of people whom the agency responded to during our last press briefing earlier this year in February.
“Those making the claims are aggrieved people who are being prosecuted by the EFCC for corrupt practices.
“The groups, through press conferences and staged street protests, have been calling for the sack of the EFCC Chairman for alleged disobedience of court orders. They claim they are motivated by the need to strengthen the fight against corruption.
“Information available to the commission indicates that the group is sponsored by persons under investigation by the commission and have been mobilised and mandated by their paymaster to embarrass the person of the chairman through choreographed street protests across the country, until he is removed from office.”