President Bola Tinubu has suspended the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), AbdulRasheed Bawa, indefinitely and with immediate effect. This follows weighty allegations of abuse of office levelled against him by some stakeholders in the anti-corruption fight.
According to a statement issued by the Director of Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Willie Bassey, on Wednesday, Bawa has been directed to hand over the affairs of his office to the Director of Operations in the Commission, who will oversee the affairs of the Office of the Chairman pending the conclusion of the investigation.
The statement did not disclose the nature of the allegations against Bawa, but sources within the EFCC said they were related to his handling of some high-profile cases involving politically exposed persons and some businessmen.
Bawa, who was appointed as the EFCC chairman in February 2021, is the youngest person to head the anti-graft agency since its inception in 2003. He has been credited with initiating some reforms and innovations in the Commission, such as the establishment of a special directorate for digital and forensic investigations, and the creation of a gender desk to address issues of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
However, he has also faced some challenges and controversies in his tenure, such as the alleged attempt on his life by unknown gunmen in March 2021, and his collapse during a function at the Presidential Villa in June 2021.
Some analysts have expressed concern over the suspension of Bawa, saying it could affect the morale and performance of the EFCC staff and undermine the credibility and independence of the Commission. They have also called on President Tinubu to ensure a fair and transparent investigation into the allegations against Bawa and reinstate him if he is found innocent.
Meanwhile, some supporters of Bawa have accused some powerful forces within and outside the government of being behind his suspension, alleging that they were unhappy with his uncompromising stance against corruption and his refusal to be influenced by political considerations.
They have also urged President Tinubu to reconsider his decision and reinstate Bawa, saying he was one of the best chairmen that the EFCC ever had.