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Thursday, September 21, 2023

EFCC Chair Bawa Briefs Tinubu At Presidential Villa

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, on Wednesday, briefed President Bola Tinubu at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on the activities of his Commission, Premium Times reports.

The meeting which was the first official encounter between them afforded Bawa an opportunity to brief the new president “on the fight against corruption,” EFCC’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The meeting, which was the EFCC Chairman’s first official engagement with President Tinubu since he assumed office, afforded the anti-graft czar the opportunity to brief the President on the state of the fight against corruption, including his recent visit to Saudi Arabia where he signed a memorandum of understanding, MoU, with the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (NAZAHA) of Saudi Arabia, in a bid to strengthen international partnerships to address the complex challenges posed by corruption,” the statement said.

The meeting came about 48 hours after Tinubu was sworn in as President.

It was Tinubu’s second full day in office, after he was inaugurated as the 16th Nigerian leader on Monday.

Bawa, visiting the Presisential Villa the second day after Tinubu resumed at his office, became one of the first Heads of Parastatals to brief the President to speed on the activities of their Agencies.

Bawa was appointed for a statutory five-year tenure by the immediate-past President, Muhammadu Buhari, in February 2021.

Tinubu won the February Presidential election, promising to build on Buhari’s achievements in the areas of infrastructural development and other plausible programmes of the past administration.

Although, his campaigns laid less emphasis on anti-corruption drive, it promised broad preventive measures.

For instance, Tinubu said he would “streamline the civil service to fight corruption, reduce bureaucracy in Government Agencies and decrease inefficiency and waste.”

He also said his administration would support the “existing anti-corruption institutions” and address the underlying issues of corruption in the oil industry.

On Monday, devoted only a line of his inaugural speech to re-echo his promise to strengthen the anti-corruption agencies, including the EFCC, for greater efficiency.

His party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), won its first Presidential Election in 2015 with its then candidate, Buhari, promising to fight corruption.

But after eight years in the saddle, the Buhari administration “lost focus and took major misteps rolling back major anti-corruption achievements, by granting pardon to two former Governors who were still serving prison sentences after their conviction on corruption charges.”

It is a rare feat in Nigeria to have former Governors, who often come under strong suspicion of looting their state treasuries during their tenures in office, prosecuted, not to talk of securing their conviction.

Currently, there are said to be about 11 former Governors under EFCC investigations.

Premium Times exclusively reported that EFCC, in April, signalled its plan to commence mass investigations of governors and their Deputies.

On Monday, some of the targeted officials stepped down from office that used to clothe them with immunity from criminal prosecution.

Apart from the two convicted former Governors pardoned by Buhari – Jolly Nyame of Taraba State, and Joshua Dariye of Plateau State – EFCC, in its about two decades of existence, has only secured the conviction of three former Governors.

Two of the cases which involve Lucky Igbinedion of Edo State, and the late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State, ended in plea bargains that got them convicted, but enabled them to escape imprisonment. EFCC recently invited Igbinedion for a fresh case.

The third case involved a former Governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, who was convicted of corruption and jailed. He was serving his jail term when the Supreme Court ordered his retrial last year.

Another former Governor, James Ibori of Delta State was jailed in the United Kingdom.

Tinubu’s election is still being challenged in court.

In his inaugural speech on Monday, the President admitted that the February election was keenly fought, but insisted he won the contest fairly. – PT


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