Abdulrasheed Bawa, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is 41 years old. This puts him among one of Nigeria’s youngest public servants, especially at the federal level.
So, in today’s rapidly changing world where young people are now seen to be pioneering effectiveness and efficiency via better ways of doing things, Bawa and his EFCC have come to represent a colossal disgrace to the many young people intentionally doing things better around the world.
When you realise how extended the struggle to get young people into public leadership roles has been, you wonder if they can get any younger than Bawa, a 41-year-old? In February 2021, Bawa was confirmed by the National Assembly after being duly nominated by President Buhari.
For someone who had spent all his working life at the EFCC since joining in 2004 and becoming part of the inaugural class of EFCC Cadet Officers (Course One) in 2005, Bawa’s career surely exemplifies that of a trailblazer if his achievements and records in his various postings are considered in this cursory examination of why he has only managed to remain uninspiring and more of the same.
To be clear, this is not a fixation on whether the EFCC has been achieving results or scoring points per its mandate.
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This is a focus on why the EFCC, perceived to be an elite law enforcement agency, has continued to conduct itself in a manner that equates it to how thugs and gangsters operate.
In one breaking news after another, Bawa’s supposed elite EFCC has been reduced to a midnight-arriving, door-breaking, fence-scaling, mask-wearing, gun-toting, phone-snatching, laptop-seizing, privacy-disrespecting, people-beating, and just-ordinary agency.
The same Bawa, upon his appointment, promised that the EFCC would continue to “do what is right,” “be professional” and “abide by the rule of law.”
Instead, EFCC officials under his tenure have been known to exhibit an astonishingly embarrassing lack of discipline and professionalism and a rudderless style and approach to intelligence and law enforcement.
The EFCC’s complete disregard for democratic measures and human rights is manifested in its arbitrary raids on nightclubs, bars, hotels, private residences of citizens (even university student lodges!), and other places one would ordinarily consider a safe sanctuary for public habitation.
Fortunately, though, not all its victims have left its crude, rampaging, and marauding tactics unchallenged. Earlier this year, the Federal High Court in Abuja awarded N50m in damages to a businessman, Babatunde Morakinyo, who sued the EFCC for arresting him within court premises after he was released on bail.
Across Nigeria’s various judicial jurisdictions, there are also several pending cases that have been instituted against the EFCC, most of which include cases of human rights abuse, illegal arrest, and detention, carrying out a search without the appropriate warrant, and so many other allegations.
When you have an agency embroiled in all of these sideshows, especially in a country with a terrible culture of prolonged investigations, needless adjournments, miscarriage of justice, etc., what time and resources are left to dedicate to the core of its work?
If Bawa actually seeks to leave a decent legacy, it is clear that his current trajectory is no indicator of such. He should not wait until he leaves office and writes his memoir before telling us what he could have done better.
The good thing is that as long as he has not been sacked, there is still time to make significant leader-led reforms in the EFCC, at least to remedy it from what it has now become in the eyes and minds of Nigerians: a huge, unfunny joke.
Written by Precious Ohaegbulam