The new chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Abdulrasheed Bawa, has said the anti-corruption war under his watch would be driven by intelligence.
Mr Bawa promised to create a full-fledged directorate of intelligence that would spearhead the commission’s intelligence.
A statement by EFCC’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, quoted him as saying this on assuming his duties at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja on Friday.
“We are going to digitalise our processes, and we are going to create a new full-pledged directorate of intelligence to enable us to gather intelligence so that we will be proactive in our fight against economic and financial crimes; and by so doing, we will also provide the government with necessary quality advice that will lead to good governance,” he said.
Mr Bawa, 40, whose appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari, was confirmed by the Senate on February 24, took over from the acting chair, Mohammed Abba, at a formal handing over ceremony on Friday.
Mr Abba, as the EFCC Director of Operations, was appointed the acting chair of the commission following the suspension of his predecessor, Ibrahim Magu, in July last year.
Mr Magu, who also acted as the chairperson of the agency without senate confirmation for nearly five years, was suspended but never recalled to face the Ayo Salami panel set up to probe the allegations corruption and insubordination levelled against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
The panel’s report submitted to Mr Buhari in November has not been released to the public.
‘New approach to anti-corruption war’
In the EFCC statement highlighting Mr Bawa’s comments at the handing over ceremony on Friday, the new EFCC chair promised a paradigm shift in the agency’s approach to anti-graft war.
PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday highlighted 10 key expectations, including respect for human rights and more robust investigation, prosecution and asset recovery, which Nigerians want him to meet for a successful anti-graft war.
“There is a difference between fighting corruption and fighting corrupt people; and going forward, we are going to be proactive in our approach in the fight against economic and financial crimes,” Mr Bawa said.
He assured stakeholders of continued partnership, adding “For our strategic partners across the shores of this country, we will continue to work together with you.”
He promised to share intelligence aimed at ensuring that the nation’s stolen wealth was recovered.
Asset recovery was a major focus of the Mr Magu-led EFCC and the success of the commission in this regard was often touted by the former EFCC boss and his allies as part of his major achievements in office.
Mr Bawa promised to continue the streak of assets recovery in line with extant laws and constitutional provisions.
He said, “We will continue to share intelligence, to see that the stolen wealth of this country is returned for the betterment of us all.
“But all of these, we will be doing it the way the EFCC is known to be doing its things. “The provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, extant laws of the country have always been and will always be our guide.”
He also pledged to prioritise staff welfare, adding that he would ask the government for necessary support.
“We know the problems and God willing, we are going to solve these problems,” he said.
Earlier in his handing over remarks, the former acting chair, Mr Abba, expressed confidence that Mr Bawa would succeed.
He said, “I am particularly delighted to be handing over the affairs of the commission to Bawa.
“He is an officer with whom I have enjoyed a close working relationship and who contributed immensely to our collective efforts in the war against economic and financial crimes.
“I do not doubt that he will do well and enjoin all staff to accord him the same support that I have received over the last seven months.”
Mr Abba, who also thanked President Buhari for allowing giving him the opportunity to lead the commission as the acting chair,said under his watch, the commission prosecuted 804 cases and secured a total of 583 convictions.
He added that substantial recovery running into billions of Naira was made, while various assets were equally forfeited to the Federal Government through interim or final order of court.
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