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CLOSE-UP: Bawa, the economist and finance expert who would be Nigeria’s youngest anti-graft czar ever

CLOSE-UP: Bawa, the economist and finance expert who would be Nigeria’s youngest anti-graft czar ever
February 16
15:40 2021

A new sheriff is in town. He is Abdulrasheed Bawa, 40, who has just been nominated chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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On Tuesday, the presidency announced Bawa’s appointment to lead the anti-graft agency which has been enmeshed in corruption scandal following the suspension of Ibrahim Magu, its former acting head.

The previous chief executives were all police officers and assumed office at older ages: Nuhu Ribadu was 42 at the time of his appointment in 2003; Farida Waziri was 58 in 2008; Ibrahim Lamorde was 50 in 2012; and Magu was 52 in 2015.

Not only will he be the agency’s youngest chairman in its 18-year history if confirmed by the senate, he will also be the first chairman to be appointed from among the trained cadets of the EFCC academy from where he graduated in February 2017.

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A number of firsts which definitely comes with a lot of responsibilities.

AT 40, BAWA HAS PROSECUTED SOME OF NIGERIA’S MOST NOTORIOUS CORRUPTION CASES 

Bawa is at the centre of the prosecution of big cases involving Alison-Madueke and Babangida Aliyu

Bawa joined the EFCC in 2005 and was deployed to the Lagos zonal office. Since then, he has served under all the previous chairpersons of the commission and held key positions.

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According to his curriculum vitae, a copy of which was obtained by TheCable, he has investigated a number of high-profile cases at the EFCC in recent years.

Since 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari took office, the deputy chief detective superintendent has been leading investigations into the corruption allegations against Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum resources accused of looting billions of naira from Nigeria’s treasury.

The anti-graft agency is already seeking to extradite the former minister from the United Kingdom where she relocated shortly before the inception of Buhari’s administration.

Also in Bawa’s books is Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, former governor of Niger who is being prosecuted for allegedly laundering N2 billion belonging to the state government.

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Bawa was involved in other prominent cases such as the $6.8 billion petroleum subsidy fraud scandal that rocked the Goodluck Jonathan administration, controversial oil deals involving Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts (AEDC) Ltd that cost Nigeria huge sums of money between 2011 and 2015, shady crude oil swap deals in which Nigeria lost billions of naira to between 2014 and 2015 among others.

SECURED 442 CONVICTIONS AS HEAD OF THREE ZONES

Bawa, seen here with the chief judge of Lagos, has secured a record number of convictions

The Kebbi-born investigator is also known in the anti-corruption circles for employing the services of young and external lawyers to ensure speedy prosecution of corruption-related cases.

To date, he has served as the head of three zones — in Port Harcourt, Ibadan and, most recently, Lagos.

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At the Ibadan zonal office which he led from June 2018 to January 2019, 113 of the cases he supervised were concluded and 54 charged to court within six months, according to his CV.

In Port Harcourt where he operated as zonal head from January 2019 to December 2019, he was said to have recorded 215 convictions in 11 months while in Lagos where he has operated as zonal head since August 2020, 227 convictions have reportedly been secured since his redeployment.

Bawa also led the EFCC’s “Operation Cyber Storm One”  in which more than 60 suspected advance fee fraudsters and cybercrime perpetrators were prosecuted in 2008.

He has also garnered experience from various roles including as head of capacity development division, EFCC Academy, Abuja; head of the counter-terrorism and general investigation/pension unit as well as head of advance fee fraud section team at Lagos zonal office;  head of economic governance team at the Abuja zonal office.

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ECONOMIST. FINANCE EXPERT. SOON-TO-BE LAWYER

Bawa is pursuing a bachelor of law degree at the University of London

A graduate of Usmanu Danfodio University Sokoto where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics and master’s degree in international affairs and diplomacy, Bawa is pursuing a bachelor of law degree at the University of London.

He has been trained by world-class institutions including the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners — all in the United States.

In 2008, he was part of a financial analysis and domestic cooperation training at the Global Training Consulting, London United Kingdom, and, in 2007, attended the United State Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Training of Trainers.

Meanwhile, in some online publications, Bawa himself was accused of corruption during his time as the EFCC zonal head in Port Harcourt, when petrol trucks confiscated from suspected looters were allegedly auctioned off under controversial circumstances.

He was reportedly detained for some days over the allegations and later transferred to the EFCC academy in Abuja.

These reports were neither confirmed nor denied at the time.

But as the new sheriff, Bawa is keeping an eye on two key things: flushing out corrupt personnel from the commission and prosecuting cases notwithstanding political affiliations.

In a media interview granted a few months ago when he was made the head of the EFCC zonal office in Lagos, he vowed to flush out the corrupt officials within the commission after admitting that they are “not angels”.

According to him, “We are not angels. There are some bad elements within the system, but they are negligible elements, we are fishing them out and charging them to court.

“We need the help of Nigerians; those that are corrupting them and those that know about their acts. Let them come forward with this information and you are going to see what we will do and what we have been doing with the corrupt elements within the system.”

Bawa had also claimed the anti-graft agency is non-partisan in its operations and only focused on its mandate to rid the country of economic and financial crimes.

“When a certain party was in power, we have been accused of selective justice. But with the party in power at the beginning of the EFCC, we investigated certain ministers and government officials, senators, senate president of that party,” Bawa had said.

“Now that another party is in power, people are still accusing us of that, but they are not saying that Joshua Dariye and other governors that were convicted are members of the governing party.

“People will always talk; if it is in your favour, you will not say it and when against you, you will say it. But EFCC is for Nigeria and all Nigerians, we are striving to do our best based on the mandate given to us.”

With his predecessor still being interrogated for allegedly re-looting recovered loot, all eyes will be on the incoming chairman as the anti-graft agency battles to regain public confidence.

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