The Senate Wednesday confirmed Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa as the new helmsman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with a stern warning to him to learn from his predecessors’ pitfalls.
This is even as Bawa promised Nigerians a proactive anti-graft agency and not a reactive one that it had been within the last 16 years.
He was confirmed by the Senate at about 2:15pm after over two-hour drilling.
“Proactive approach rather than reactive one shall be adopted by EFCC under me as Executive Chairman if confirmed by this Distinguished Senate because there is difference between fighting corrupt people and fighting corruption,” he said.
He added that EFCC under him would be an agency operated strictly within the confines of extant laws guiding its operations and relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“We are looking forward to an EFCC that where I, as the Chairman, gives a subordinate an assignment, he will be confident to tell me, Mr. Chairman, I understand your instruction, but due to the laws I cannot carry out this order because of this or that section of the law.
“We hope that if confirmed by this Senate, we are going to be more transparent and be more accountable and fair to all.
“We hope if given opportunity, my colleagues and I will embark on the digitalization of the processes of the EFCC. In essence, what I am saying is that we are going to keep our records so that as at when due, and it will just be a matter of pressing the buttons,” he said.
Speaking further, Bawa said: “On repositioning, the backbone of every organisation is in its human resource. I hope and pray that we will still come back to this chamber for better appropriation to enable us build the capacity of our staff at the EFCC, to meet up new typology and strains of crimes to have a society that is crime-free.
“Today, the EFCC has an academy, we need to work on it; we need to re-organise it to meet the challenges of crime fighting in our current world.”
On alleged sale of trucks at Port Harcourt during his tenure as the zonal head, Bawa said he was not in a position to do that at that time and didn’t know how the trucks were sold or proceeds made from them.
“Anybody that is familiar with the processes and workings of the EFCC would know that even the Executive Chairman of the EFCC doesn’t have the powers to dispose off a single asset.
“That responsibility lies with the office of the Secretary of the Commission. I am starting from that end to confirm to Nigerians through this Senate, that as the zonal head of the EFCC, I never for once sold a single asset in Port Harcourt. I never did.
“The then Secretary of the Commission together with three directors and other staff from the headquarters flew in to Port Harcourt and disposed off the trucks and other assets in them that were forfeited to the federal government, sequel to our singular effort as part of the reformation that I brought to the Port Harcourt zonal office,” he said.
On whether or not he had the capacity to man the office, he said: “I am qualified to be the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. The provision of the Constitution is very clear. It says that the person to be so appointed as Chairman should be a serving or retired security or law enforcement personnel or officer.
“The question is, ‘Am I a law enforcement officer? Yes I am. Because the provisions of Section 8(5) states that officers of the EFCC in the discharge of their duties have all the powers, authorities, privileges and immunities of the police officer.
“We have been trained as law enforcement officers to arrest, detain and testify against suspects in Court. In that regard, I am eminently qualified. The second issue is that the officer to be so nominated must have 15-year cognate experience in law enforcement. I have been in EFCC since 2004 till date. I am well over 15 years as a law enforcement officer.
“The third issue is that the officer to be appointed should not be below an Assistant Commissioner of Police or its equivalent. I am not a Police officer, but the equivalent of my rank is that of Assistant Commissioner of Police.”
Asked how he hoped to handle pressures from influential individuals on any particular case, the nominee said: “On pressure, I will discharge my duties without fear or favour.”
Bawa said the anti-graft agency does not engage in media trials but has a responsibility to educate citizens on its activities.
“We have a responsibility to enlighten the public on our activities,” he said.
Speaking on his priorities, he said one of them “is to repatriate all looted or stolen assets from the country starched abroad.”
Aside questions fired at the new EFCC boss by most of the 19 senators who had the privilege of doing so, many of them also advised him to avoid mistakes made by some of his predecessors which led to their ignoble exits from office.
Specifically, Senator Ike Ekweremadu (PDP Enugu West), said: “You’re not going to be the first Chairman of EFCC, you know the circumstances that led to the unceremonious exits of most of your predecessors. You know how they ended.
“You know that they came out of the EFCC and became like ordinary citizens and of course, you know that at the end of their lives, they’ll meet their creator to account for their actions.
“So, I’m going to advise you to rather learn from those mistakes, those ones made, because ultimately your tenure would end and then you’ll be like any of us.
“I’d like to advise you, because you’ve been there, to check those mistakes they made, in both the operations, their human relations, the way they did their job, how they responded to people, and of course how they carried their responsibilities.”No tags for this post.