Transparency International in Nigeria has stated that the suspension of EFCC chairman Abdulrasheed Bawa was not surprising, as successive Nigerian administrations have frequently manipulated the anti-corruption agency to settle political disputes instead of addressing corruption issues.
Auwal Rafsanjani, the head of the anti-corruption agency in Nigeria and executive director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), made these remarks during an interview in Abuja.
President Bola Tinubu announced the suspension of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman on Wednesday in a statement issued by the office of the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF).
Mr. Bawa was suspended based on “serious allegations of misconduct” against him.
“The suspension did not take us aback. This is because previous regimes or governments have consistently removed EFCC leaders upon assuming power,” Mr. Rafsanjani stated. “Considering the removal of the EFCC chairman, we were already aware that he would be removed due to numerous political interests and potential changes.”
He mentioned that Mr. Tinubu may not retain Bawa due to the manner of his appointment and his affiliations.
“He will want to distance himself from anything related to that. Additionally, some politicians associated with the government have reservations about the current suspended EFCC chairman. Therefore, they may not feel comfortable with him in that position,” added the Transparency International representative in Nigeria.
Mr. Rafsanjani observed that “the EFCC office has been needlessly politicized,” making it “challenging to fulfill its original mandate as a government agency.”
“Therefore, we need to consider this context and perspective, so I am not surprised,” he remarked. However, he emphasized that “what is crucial is that we must insist and demand that anti-corruption efforts and the commendable work of agencies, including the EFCC, continue in the country.”
He also advised the government under Mr. Tinubu to prioritize expertise over politics when appointing the next EFCC chairman.
“When selecting the next individual, I believe it is essential to establish a technically proficient and professional office. Let us minimize political influences and avoid using them to settle political matters,” Mr. Rafsanjani suggested.
He added, “We need a person with credible experience and fair-mindedness to fulfill that responsibility.”