PRESIDENTIAL Advisory Committee Against Corruption (Pacac) chairman Professor Itse Sagay has expressed fears that attorney-general Abubakar Malami will prevent new Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman Abdulrasheed Bawa from performing.
Yesterday, Nigeria’s senate approved the appointment of Mr Bawa as the substantive EFCC chairman after appeared before the National Assembly. There had been some question marks over the appointment of Mt Bawa, who was seen as a lackey of Mr Malami and there were allegations that he was involved in corrupt practices while serving as the head of the EFCC’s Lagos Bureau.
Despite all these concerns, however, Mr Bawa got the nod from senators and has since assumed office after a brief meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari. However, Professor Sagay has expressed fears that Mr Malami, who has become too powerful in government circles, may prevent Mr Bawa from succeeding.
Professor Sagay who was a staunch supporter of former acting EFCC chairman Ibrahim Magu, said Mr Malami is a politician and must not be allowed to directly control the activities of the EFCC as it could derail the federal government’s anti-corruption war. In 2019, Professor Sagay led a delegation to the senate to push for Mr Magu’s confirmation but the move failed.
“This issue is a very big question because I noticed that they both come from the same state of Kebbi and they may even be related. For me, that is not a very healthy thing because the chairman of the EFCC and the EFCC are supposed to be independent.
“They are not politicians, they are trained security officers. The attorney-general is a politician who has all the weaknesses and loads of a politician and he has people he is obliged to.
“He has people who are close to him, some of them may be criminals who might have committed crimes. In fact, some of them may deliberately do things because they think they know the attorney-general,” Professor Sagay added.
He pointed out that Mr Malami had never been inclined to support the independence of anti-graft agencies. In addition, Professor Sagay argued that he had made his position known several times but unfortunately, Mr Malami’s powers had continued to increase.
Professor Sagay stressed: “In such a situation, if Bawa is related to the attorney-general, then there will be a problem because he will not be able to do his job freely because the attorney-general will certainly interfere. He has already indicated his tendency to interfere in both the EFCC and the ICPC with the regulations he purported to make months ago, so, I am not comfortable at all that the possibility that they might be related.
“Malami has never been inclined to allow the anti-corruption agencies to operate freely, he is always sitting on their neck one way or the other. I have complained about that several times and nothing has happened.”
While admitting that he did not know Bawa personally, Professor Sagay said he was impressed by his curriculum vitae and background. He added that since Mr Magu had been removed, it was time for all parties to move on and ensure that Mr Bawa succeeds.