Over 120 anti-corruption civil society organisations have called for the removal of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, for what they termed his alleged politicisation of the agency, disobedience to court orders and infringement on human rights of Nigerians.
The CSOs, in a petition on Tuesday, demanded that the EFCC chairman be sacked.
There had been a series of protest rallies by CSOs calling for Bawa’s removal as EFCC helsman.
The CSOs had demanded that Bawa be sent to prison for contempt of court.
Justice R.O. Ayoola of the Kogi State High Court had in a judgment on February 6 sentenced Bawa to prison for disobeying a November 30, 2022 court order.
The judge directed the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to effect Bawa’s arrest and remand him in Kuje Prison.
It was the second time that a court would order the imprisonment of the EFCC chairman for contempt.
Justice Chizoba Oji of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja, had in November last year, convicted Bawa of contempt and ordered that he be sent to prison.
Speaking during the protest rally on Tuesday, the spokesperson for the Transparency and Accountability Group, Ayodeji Ologun, said, “What we are agitating against is his disobedience of the courts and the brazen politicisation of the EFCC. The IGP should immediately effect his arrest in line with the court ruling.
“Before Bawa can appeal against a court order sending him to prison, he must obey the order first. This is settled in law. Recently, the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, directed ASUU to first comply with an order of the National Industrial Court directing them to suspend their strike before their appeal could be heard.
“Also, just last week, the EFCC itself arrested Senator Nwabaoshi for refusing to go to prison after he was sent there by the Federal High Court. This is despite his appeal against his sentence.”
“Appeal or no appeal, Bawa must report to Kuje prison. His appeal can’t be heard until he complies with the valid court ruling sending him to prison.”
But the spokesperson for the anti-graft agency, Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement on Tuesday, alleged that the CSOs mounting pressure for Bawa’s imprisonment and sacking were being sponsored to discredit the EFCC and incite the public against the anti-graft agency.
He said, “Information available to the commission indicates that the group is sponsored by persons under investigation by the commission and have been mobilised and mandated by their paymaster to embarrass the person of the chairman through choreographed street protests across the country, until he is removed from office.
“It is significant that this group found its voice after the EFCC launched an investigation into the mindless looting of the treasury of one of the states. This same group shouted that the commission lacked the power to investigate the theft of the state’s resources.
“Their latest dance in the market square came a few hours after family members of a sitting state governor were arraigned at an Abuja court for allegedly stealing the state’s funds.”