Eight civil society organisations (CSOs) yesterday asked President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to renew the tenure of Executive Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, citing 70 per cent conviction rate recorded during his tenure for their request.
The CSOs justified calls for Bawa’s tenure renewal on a premise that EFCC, under its current chairman, had redefined the fight against corruption since his appointment by President Mohammadu Buhari.
National President, Campaign for Dignity in Governance (CDG), Comrade Razaq Olokoba, made the call at a news conference he addressed in Lagos yesterday alongside leaders of seven others CSOs.
Other leaders include: Nichson Ufondu of Southern Coalition Movement; Alex Omotehinse of Centre for Human and Socio-economic Rights; Nelson Ekujumi of Centre for Social and Economic Rights; Titi Akosa of Centre for 21st Century Issues; Folashade Aransiola of North Central Women Against Corruption; Raji Oyewunmi of Movement for Democratic Change and Razaq Oladosu Grassroot Initiative.
Olokoba observed that EFCC had recorded a conviction rate of about 3,785 in 2022, which according to him, represented a 70 per cent increase from the figure of 2220 in 2021.
He added that the figure “is also asides the huge amount of money in both local and foreign currencies with other items, property and automobiles recovered by the agency.”
On this ground, Olokoba commended the commission’s effort in the fight against corruption across all strata of the country’s economy as the commission approaches its 20 years of existence.
He observed that EFCC in the last few years had demonstrated its continual relevance and earned increasing confidence among the people.
According to them, these successes cannot be separated from the commitment and sacrifices of individuals who have relentlessly kept with their assigned roles in pursuit of the EFCC mandate.
He said: “For us, in the civil society and beyond, the details of the great work the EFCC team has been doing, is the fact that incorruptible and fearless individuals like Bawa continuously deserve a place in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
“His integrity, intellectual prowess, dedication, proficiency of his legal team in unraveling thorny cases and ability to not only ensure conviction via logical argument but also be mindful of ensuring justice even to the a culpable accused person stand him out as a public service juggernaut not to be toyed with in the fight against corruption.
“He represents to us an exemplar in the fight against corruption in the present and in the future. The anti-corruption efforts need more people like him.
“Bawa and his like in this effort still have more to contribute and more to teach to the upcoming generation of anti-corruption enthusiasts, practitioners and experts in this unique field of democratic institution building.”
He said in the last seven years records have shown increased competence and commitment, particularly following the appointment of Bawa in February 2021.
He noted that there was a spike in conviction and recovery across all zones of the country, adding that for example, between 2016 and 2019, the number of convictions secured rose from 195 to 1,280 and by 2021 the figure had hit an unprecedented 2220.
He also said the figure amounted to 98.47 per cent of all cases brought before the court of law, noting that in the same year, “over N150 billion was recovered, with recovery in other currencies such as $386 million, £1.182 million and €156000.
“The record for the year 2022 is even more startling for the forces of corruption and encouraging for the anti-corruption forces as the total number of convictions in the year was 3785 a 70 per cent increase over the 2220 recorded in 2021. In the year, the percentage of conviction was 98.93 per cent.
“It is noteworthy that these convictions highlight the competence of the enforcement team in ensuring arrests and prosecution based on concrete evidence rather than capricious reasons and intentions.”
“The monetary recovery was also higher in the year 2022, with over N260 billion, $509 billion, €2.196, £876.138 and millions of other foreign currencies recovered.
“These values exclude assets such as automobiles, electronics, machines, factories, hotels, petroleum products and minerals such as lithium, which were recovered in the same period and worth billions of naira.
“Thus EFCC has not only become the nightmare of corrupt politicians and public officers, but that of money launderers, yahoo boys and local fraudsters, ensuring no resting place for them and reposing confidence of the mass of our people in the possibility of building a greater nation.”