Suspended Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, on Wednesday night, honored an invitation by the Department of State Services (DSS), hours after he was asked to stay off work indefinitely by President Bola Tinubu.
A statement by DSS’ spokesperson, Dr. Peter Afunanya, confirmed that Bawa arrived at the DSS headquarters last night.
The statement said, “The Department of State Services (DSS) has invited Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, the suspended Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“Bawa arrived a few hours ago. The invitation relates to some investigative activities concerning him.”
The DSS had recently blocked the 15 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi office of EFCC in Lagos with Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) over ownership of the property. The agency was later directed by Tinubu to vacate the premises immediately and find amicable ways of resolving the matter, saying such needless rivalry would no longer be tolerated on his watch.
But Tinubu, on Wednesday, suspended Bawa indefinitely.
A terse statement from the office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), George Akume, said Tinubu approved Bawa’s suspension to allow for proper investigation into his conduct while in office.
“This follows weighty allegations of abuse of office levelled against him,” the statement said. It added, “Mr Bawa has been directed to immediately handover the affairs of his office to the Director, Operations, in the commission, who will oversee the affairs of the office of the chairman of the commission, pending the conclusion of the investigation.”
Subsequently, Mohammed Umar was instructed to take over in acting capacity.
“He has been directed by President Tinubu to take over the affairs of the commission, being the Director of Operations, after the suspension of Abdulrasheed Bawa,” a follow-up statement said.
Unlike his predecessors, Bawa’s own case appears to be enmeshed in twists and turns. Recall that he was the architect of the controversial naira redesign and currency swap policy implemented in the last months of the former President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Bawa had, allegedly, sold the idea to Buhari, who got the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to implement the policy.
The suspended EFCC chairman had proposed that the policy would help to curb money laundering, banditry, and other criminal activities involving illegal movement of funds.
And to a large extent, it did.
But Tinubu and many of his supporters never hid their aversion to the monetary policy, which they believed was targeted against the then All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate. They saw the dual crises of naira and petrol scarcity at the time as contrived to hurt Tinubu’s presidential ambition.
Tinubu said during the campaigns, “Even if they said there is no fuel, we will trek to vote. They have a lot of mischief. They could say there is no fuel. This one, too, they think can cause a crisis by sabotaging the fuel supply.
“They are sabotaging fuel supply. Whether there is fuel or not, whether there is Okada (motorcycle) or not, whether there is tricycle or not, we will go and vote and we shall win. This is a superior revolution and when I tell you, you know what I mean. You know me; we are going there to win.
“They have been scheming to create a fuel crisis, but forget about it. Relax. I, Asiwaju, have told you that the issue of fuel supply will be permanently addressed.”
The general suspicion following Bawa’s suspension is that the Tinubu camp may be taking their pound of flesh over his role in the Naira redesign and currency swap policy of the last administration.
Nonetheless, except for the first chairman of the agency, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, others, from Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Farida Waziri (rtd), to Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Ibrahim Lamorde (rtd), AIG Ibrahim Magu (rtd), and now Bawa, all left office amid allegations of impropriety.
Bawa was the fourth executive chairman of EFCC. He was appointed by Buhari on February 16, 2021, and was confirmed by the senate on February 24, 2021.
Bawa’s ascension to office was a departure from his predecessors, who were all appointed from the Nigeria Police. He was the only head of EFCC that emerged from the agency.
Immediate past Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, accused Bawa of demanding $2 million from him. He made the accusation in an interview with BBC Hausa Service.
But the agency, at a media briefing, said the accusation was triggered by an ongoing investigation of Matawalle over alleged monumental corruption involving the theft of about N70 billion from Zamfara government coffers.
The coalition alleged that Bawa “operates like an emperor”, using his office to “intimidate, harass and force” people, financial institutions, and other government agencies to do his bidding with backing from his godfather in the corridor of power.