Go! Bawa Go! 120 CSOs Tell EFCC Chair
…. No Retreat, No Surrender, Bawa Must Resign As EFCC Chairman & Face Prosecution
Frontline Anti-corruption Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) numbering over 130, have resumed their call for the sack of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, over alleged politicisation of the Commission, Disobedience of Court Orders and Infringement on Human Rights of Nigerians, among others.
The activists who were joined by over 20 Constitutional lawyers, led by Barr. Mogbojuri Kayode of the Citizens Rights Advocacy Group, noted that the desperation of Bawa to save his face after dishonourable acts in office had taken a laughable turn, insisting that no amount of “purchased CSOs’ vote of confidence” would cover the truth about the abnormalities being condoned in EFCC under its current leadership.
They spoke at a joint press conference in Lagos on Tuesday.
According to them, the EFCC has become so desperate to launder what they called a rapidly diminishing image of Bawa, to the extent that the Commission’s spokesman laughably signed a Press Release, recently, informing Nigerians that a Civil Society Organization had passed a vote of confidence in its chairman.
“Isn’t it the job of the media to see that and independently report?” they asked.
The leaders of the struggle said it was a thing of honour that, despite the immense pressure mounted on leaders of the “Bawa Must Go” protests to abandon their objective cause, over 120 of the main actors had remained resolute while more had joined in the interest of the rule of law.
The Anti-corruption activists, however, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for bailing the country out of what they described as a Judicial quagmire “by dissociating the Presidency from any act of disobedience to court orders and making the Central Bank of Nigeria comply with a Supreme Court order that extended the validity of old naira notes till December 31, 2023.”
“As this is expected to ease the pain of the masses, we hereby call on the President to also wade into the seeming fixation of the EFCC on certain individuals and the desperation of the Chairman of the Commission to score cheap political goals through unwarranted media trials of non-convicted individuals in the country. He should direct Mr. Bawa to step aside until he purges himself of contempt as ruled by a High Court,” Spokesperson for the Coalition, Olufemi Lawson, said in a speech delivered on behalf of the activists.
Chairman, Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, Debo Adeniran, specifically noted that his organisation had, from the outset, alerted the National Assembly to the fact that Bawa was unfit for the post of EFCC chairman, over alleged corrupt practices and his rumoured relationship with the Attorney-General of the Federation who was believed to have masterminded the travails and eventually removal of Bawa’s predecessor, Ibrahim Magu.
According to him, Bawa’s alleged misconduct in office is a confirmation of CACOL’s fears of his being a misfit for the position.
Adeniran, who made copies of CACOL’s initial objection to Bawa’s appointment available to the press, said, “Up till now, he (Bawa) has not cleared himself of all the allegations against him and he has been made to catch other people who committed offences that are not as grievous as the ones that he has been accused of. And on top of all of these, he has been behaving as if he is an authority to himself. And we are now saying that, no matter how highly placed you are, no matter how influential you are, you still are duty-bound to operate within the confines of the laws of our own country. That is the Constitution.
“Nobody is above the law. Everybody should be equal before the law. If we don’t allow the rule of law to govern our society, then we are plunging our society into that kingdom where anarchy rules, where there will be chaos and where there will be no control over who does what, and that would be a disorganised society.
“This man has been convicted about two times for flagrant disobedience of court orders. The Inspector-General of Police has been lagging behind in the performance of his duty in this regard, may be because of what they believe should be esprit de corps. Gradually, other agencies would not want to obey the rule of law.
“This would only draw back the gains we have made over the years when we thought that we had struggled ourselves out of the stranglehold of the Military. This is not expected of a born-again democrat that our President now claims to be. For how long will our President allow impunity to govern our society before he knows that he has to exercise his enormous power to insist that the rule of law that he has relied upon over the years holds sway?”
“Those in authority are duty-bound to ensure that judgements of any court, even if by a drunken judge, are implemented by the Police Force. And if the Police Force refuses to implement it, the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He should call them to order, instruct the Inspector-General of Police to implement the order. If the President also refuses to insist that the rule of law should be held sacrosanct, then there would be protests without end.
“We are just observing a break now as a result of the elections which we must all partake in. We will continue until the rule of law is obeyed. Everybody should be equal before the law,” the CACOL chairman stated.
Spokesperson for the Transparency and Accountability Group, Ayodeji Ologun, wondered why some people, in the name of CSOs would allow themselves to be used to reinforce failure, contrary to what genuine CSOs stand for, noting that in spite of pressure from different quarters, patriotic activists refused to be bought over.
“The issue of Bawa did not start today. When he was in the Port Harcourt division of the EFCC, he had allegations of misconduct around seized property hanging around his neck. These are allegations that were not cleared because he was forced upon the agency.
“We are repeating that we are not against the fight against corruption. But if the successes of the EFCC must stay, we cannot continue to have an ignoble personality like Abdulrasheed Bawa heading that agency. So we are not just asking the incoming government not to inherit him, we are saying he should be removed from office even before the expiration of the term of President Muhammadu Buhari,” he declared.
The anti-corruption CSOs maintained that the Commission had become synonymous with all kinds of scandals, saying, “There are allegations of age falsification to remain in office beyond the statutory limit of civil service regulations. An organization fighting against corruption should not be found enmeshed in such a scandal with the alleged active connivance of the Commission’s leadership.
“We call on the IGP to immediately swing into action and thoroughly investigate these allegations and ensure that all culpable personnel face the full weight of the law, including their facilitators.”
“We are also not unaware of some sponsored campaigns for the incoming administration to retain the services of Mr Bawa as the head of the EFCC. While we concede that it is the exclusive preserve of the President to appoint whoever is deemed fit to head the EFCC and other similar agencies of government, we cannot but as stakeholders state that Mr. Bawa has become deficient in character and as such should be the least considered by any administration determined to truly fight corruption for such a sensitive position which demands not only professional competency, but also high moral value,” they stated.
The ‘Bawa Must Go’ protests are being led by CACOL Chairman, 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 over 120 notable leaders of Anti-corruption CSOs.
Over 20 vibrant constitutional lawyers have also joined the protests.
JOINT SPEECH (FULL TEXT)
Bawa’s Desperation Taking a Laughable Turn; A Call On The Inspector-General of Police to Effect Court Order on Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa.
It is a well-known fact that, as credible Civil Society Organizations and activists, we came out en masse for seven consecutive days against the Politicisation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Disobedience of Court Orders and Infringement on Human Rights of Nigerians, under the outgoing Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa.
Rather than act honourably and step aside in view of his status as a convicted official, Mr. Bawa has continued to act as if Nigerian laws are made differently for different Nigerians. He has continued to approach the courts to secure convictions in alleged criminal matters even when he has remained defiant to the judgments of the same courts.
To the best of our knowledge, the judgment committing the EFCC Chairman to Kuje prison for contempt has yet to be upturned by any higher court in the country. Our position therefore remains that the subsisting Court orders must be obeyed before any further actions can be considered by Mr. Bawa.
Recall that at the last town hall meeting of this Coalition, we requested through a seven-day ultimatum, that the Inspector General of Police enforce the order of the court and ensure the arrest of Mr Bawa as ordered. Today, we are here to restate that the Inspector-General of Police is duty-bound as directed by the court to produce Mr Bawa in order to ensure that he serves his prison term.
We want to, on this note, commend President Muhammadu Buhari for bailing the country out of a Judicial quagmire by dissociating the Presidency from any act of disobedience to court orders and making the Central Bank of Nigeria comply with a Supreme Court order that extended the validity of old naira notes till December 31, 2023.
As this is expected to ease the pain of the masses, we hereby call on the President to wade into the seeming fixation of the EFCC on certain individuals and the desperation of the Chairman of the Commission to score cheap political goals through unwarranted media trials of non-convicted individuals in the country. He should direct Mr. Bawa to step aside until he purges himself of contempt as ruled by the High Court.
Furthermore, as the country looks forward to a new leadership, in the next few months, under the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it is our view, as stakeholders in the Nigerian project, that priority must be given to the restructuring of several agencies in our country, key among which is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, as presently constituted.
Today, the commission has become synonymous with all sorts of scandals, including those involving senior personel of the commission. There are allegations of age falsification to remain in office beyond the statutory limit of civil service regulations. An organization fighting against corruption should not be found enmeshed in such a scandal with the alleged active connivance of the Commission’s leadership. We call on the IGP to immediately swing into action and thoroughly investigate these allegations and ensure that all culpable personnel face the full weight of the law, including their facilitators.
We are also not unaware of some sponsored campaigns for the incoming administration to retain the services of Mr Bawa as the head of the EFCC. While we concede that it is the exclusive preserve of the President to appoint whoever is deemed fit to head the EFCC and other similar agencies of government, we cannot but as stakeholders state that Mr. Bawa has become deficient in character and as such should be the least considered by any administration determined to truly fight corruption for such a sensitive position which demands not only professional competency, but also high moral value.
Let us also use this opportunity to remind those, who are being used to cheaply blackmail this Coalition of veteran anti-corruption CSOs that we have a history. We have pedigrees. We have credibility. We have a genuine cause we are pursuing to save the sanctity of our Judiciary – the last hope of the common man, and we cannot be bought. We cannot have an EFCC chairman who will be sentenced every other week for contempt. That’s corrosive corruption.
Right from inception, most of our Coalition partners have been collaborating with the EFCC. We have stood by the Commission when corrupt power mongers attempted to blackmail it. We have written tons of petitions to the Commission exposing corrupt public officials and have defended same severally.
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 the 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 Organization 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 7-day ultimatum given to the IGP to effect the Court’s orders expired weeks ago. The President must direct that the EFCC boss obey court order first before appealing.
It is on this basis that we stand by our call for Bawa to go until he purges himself of clandestinely disobeying our courts.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
On aluta for justice we stand.
CACOL’S Executive Chairman, Debo Adeniran;
Barr. Mogbojuri Kayode, Executive Director, Citizens Rights Advocacy Group;
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 Ihekhaire;
Gbenga Soloki, CDHR
Ahmed Balogun, Media Rights Concern, among over 120 notable leaders of Anti-corruption CSOs.
ANTI PARTY ACTIVITIES: Esan Central APC, Suspends Nine Leaders, Appoints Bello
Nine Leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Esan Central LGA have been suspended at an extraordinary meeting held this evening at Irrua, the LGA capital.
The suspended leaders include APC State Vice Chairman, Chief Francis Inegbeniki, Esan Central foremost Party Leader, Prince Willy Shaka Momodu, Ward Leader, Hon Abudu Ugbesia, among six others.
The suspended nine APC leaders are alleged to have held a clandestine meeting at a hotel in Eidenu, Irrua on the eve of the House of Assembly election and resolved to work against their party candidate for the House of Assembly election, Hon Victor Edoror. It is alleged that they were induced by the ruling party and their grand conspiracy to disallow Hon Edoror to get into the House and become the Speaker which might scuttle their agenda for Esan governor candidate from Esan Central LGA.
The meeting which was attended enmass by angry members and party executives of the party across the LGA appointed former LGA Councillior, and House of Assembly election aspirant, Hon. Bello Oyaziwolo, as the acting Leader, to oversee the affairs of the party pending the determination of the investigation into the degree of involvement of each of the suspended leader.
Interestingly, the Deputy Leader of the Party in Esan Central LGA and former Vice Chairman of the LGA, Hon Francis Ubene, was exempted from suspension because preliminary investigation revealed that he was in the meeting allegedly called by Chief Inegbeniki, but he refused to agree with their alleged plan to sabotage the election for Hon Edoror because according to him “I have forgiven him and if I have forgiven him, I cannot work against him or the party”.
Speaking with Hon Bello, after the appointment, the new LGA Leader said he was not interested in Leading the party for selfish reasons but would commit himself to helping the party rid itself of betrayals and inept leaders in the LGA and hopefully allow a free process to produce the next LGA Leader.
Delta: Oborevwori’s Victory, A Turning Point, Says Ebireri
Media Consultant, Henry Ebireri, has urged Delta State governor-elect, Rt. Hon Sheriff Oborevwori to embark only on programmes that are genuine, attainable, purposeful, durable and people-oriented.
He also urged him to make a significant impact at improving the lot of the masses.
In a statement in Sapele, the media consultant described the March 18 governorship election in Delta State as ‘’’a turning point, a landmark in the history of the oil rich state’’.
He appealed to Oborevwori to steer Delta State in the needed direction.
‘’There is a very high expectation from the governor-elect by the people. He must direct his energy towards inculcating the spirit of self-reliance among the citizenry through economic and empowerment programmes’’
The media professional listed security, youth and women empowerment, agriculture, health, education, infrastructural development, industrial revolution, cultural and tourism rebirth, communication and sports development as key areas to be addressed by the governor-elect.
The statement underscored the future of Delta youths infrastructure and security challenges.
He urged Oborevwori to be fair to all.
He also urged him to recruit only qualified, competent and meritorious hands to help him develop the oil-rich state.
‘’They should be people of integrity, honesty and trust. The team should comprise only tested, dedicated, loyal, courageous, selfless, focused and visionary men and women’’
Ebireri further commended Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for his immense contribution to the political development of Delta State.
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege Rejects INEC’s Declaration of Oborevwori As Winner of Delta Poll
A while ago, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Delta State announced Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, gubernatorial flagbearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the governor-elect following the March 18 governorship election.
The declaration was made despite the myriad of infractions and acts of impunity on the part of the PDP in the course of the election. These were brought to the attention of INEC with incontrovertible proof.
The March 18 election was characterized by massive fraud, unprecedented vote buying and voter suppression perpetrated by the PDP in the course of the election.
The fraudulent nature of PDP’s so-called victory are just too damning and daring for it to be acceptable in any decent society. Most of those infractions are on the public domain and known to INEC officials and the security agencies involved in superintending the election.
In the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections, the results pointed to an unequivocal rejection of the PDP. Of the three senatorial zones in the state, APC won two while PDP controversially edged out the Labour Party in the Delta North Senate race.
It was an unadulterated verdict of Deltans on how they have fared under 24 years of governance of their state by PDP.
On the basis of the factors listed and more that will come later, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, governorship candidate of the APC in Delta State as well as the leadership of the party, unequivocally reject the declaration by INEC of Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori of the PDP as winner of the March 18 governorship election.
We will challenge this fraudulent result using all legal means.
As a democrat and Deputy President of the Senate, Omo-Agege will explore all lawful avenues to reclaim the mandate freely given to him by the good people of Delta State.
To the numerous supporters of APC and the entire public that share in Omo-Agege’s vision of building a new Delta State, we urge you all to remain calm, peaceful and law abiding.
I can assure all our teeming supporters and all Deltans that the PDP pyrrhic celebration of a stolen mandate will be short-lived.
By the grace of God and the clearly expressed wish of the people, this electoral heist will be reversed and Senator Omo-Agege will be sworn in on May 29, 2023 as the lawfully elected Governor of Delta State.
Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy President of the Senate and Governorship Candidate of APC, Delta State, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege
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