The Senate on Wednesday screened and confirmed Abdulrasheed Bawa as the substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The nominee, who was accompanied by officials of the anti-graft agency and well-wishers, was subsequently interviewed for almost two hours by the lawmakers, who also described his choice by the President as commendable.
They described him as “competent” and “well qualified” to perform on the job.
Bawa, in his opening remarks before the Committee of the Whole, assured Nigerians that he would deploy his experience as a certified fraud examiner, and anti-money laundering specialist in raising the bar under his watch at the EFCC.
He explained: “Let me start by thanking the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for finding me competent and deserving as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and to also assure him and indeed Nigerians, that the confidence he has on me will be proven beyond doubt at the end of my term in office,” the nominee added.
Commenting on the choice of Bawa, the Deputy Senate President, Ovie-Omo-Agege, said “he is a good product, that is why I’d like to begin by thanking Mr. President for this nomination. This nomination is unique and an aspirational nomination. It is a nomination that generated hope for millions of our youths in this country.
“Mr. President, we all recall the incident which transpired at the Lekki toll gate. Clearly, the youths at that toll gate needed an opportunity to express themselves.
“Mr. President, with this nomination, the youths of this country can now sit in offices and make those very crucial and fundamental decisions on how Nigeria should be governed, and there cannot be a better platform than the office of the Chairman of the EFCC,” Omo-Agege said.
Responding to questions from the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Bwacha, Adamu Aliero, and Bala Ibn Na’Allah, Bawa cited Section 6 and 7 of the EFCC Establishment Act clearly defines the functions of the Agency, as well as the laws it is empowered to enforce.
According to him, the duty of repositioning the EFCC entails enforcing the provisions of the EFCC Establishment Act 2004, the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, Failed Bank Recovery of Debt Act, Provisions of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, Miscellaneous Offences Act, as well as Sections of the Penal Code and Criminal Code that relate to economic and financial crimes.
He assured that under his watch, the Management of Forfeited Assets would be subject to strict adherence for transparency and accountability with the digitalization of processes at the Commission.
Bawa further clarified: “What I would do to reposition the EFCC, or what I envisage the EFCC to do is to ensure that we work on our own standard operational procedure to improve on the standard operational procedures, so much so that all that is expected of us is to try as much as possible to try and curtail the usage of discretion from the office of the Executive Chairman down to the ordinary investigator in the EFCC.
“We are looking forward to an EFCC, whereby if I give an instruction to a junior officer, he would look at my face and say, sir, I have understood your instruction but I won’t be able to do it, because of certain section of the rules or regulations governing the EFCC.
“We hope that if confirmed by this Senate, we are going to be more transparent and accountable.
We have, of course, the lingering problem or issues bothering on management of Assets. We hope if given the opportunity, my colleagues and I will embark on the digitalization of the process in the EFCC.
“In essence, what I’m saying is that we are going to embrace technology to enable us keep our records properly, so that as at when due, when Nigerians ask questions, it’s just a matter of pressing a button”, he added.
Bawa also underscored the need for appropriation by the National Assembly, specifically for building the capacity of staff at the EFCC to enable the agency deal with the new faces and challenges of financial crime.
He said: “The backbone of every organization is in its Human Resource. I hope and pray that we would still come back to this chamber, of course, for proper Appropriation to enable us build the capacity of our staff at the EFCC to meet up with the current challenges of new topologies of crimes as well as strains in money laundering etc., so that at the end of the day, over vision of getting this country rid of economic and financial crimes is actualized.”
Bawa further stressed that the Commission under his Chairmanship would place premium on inter-agency partnership with sister security agencies, through a proactive approach that fosters good governance, as against deploying reactive antics aimed at witch-hunting individuals or demonizing institutions.
He elaborated: “I’ve talked about the issue of synergy between the EFCC and sister security and law enforcement agencies in the country, as well as the work I envisage to do together with our own foreign strategic partners.
“We are going to work on that, we are going to strengthen it. EFCC is not a lone ranger, we are going to reach out in the job of fighting economic and financial crimes for everybody to be on board.
“The EFCC under my watch and if confirmed by this hallowed chamber will work on proactive approach rather than reactive approach in the process of good governance in this country rather than fighting wars of corruption.
“We understood at the Commission that there is difference between fighting corrupt people and fighting corruption. Fighting corruption is about good governance, it is about working on the institutions of government to tell them areas where they need to work to avoid leakages”, Bawa assured.