The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) was established in 2003 under the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo with the sole mandate of fighting against corrupt practices in Nigeria.
Over the years, the Agency has recorded a lot of success as it has helped the nation to recover stolen funds from politicians, online fraudsters, and money launderers disguised as entrepreneurs.
The agency which was established to rid Nigeria of Economic and Financial Crimes and effectively coordinate the domestic efforts of the global fight against money laundering and terrorism financing has however been found wanting on several occasions especially with the several allegations of corruption, power mishandling, and selective prosecution against its past Chairmen.
Why do EFCC bosses usually exit unceremoniously?
Nuhu Ribadu was appointed in 2003 by Former President Olusegun Obasanjo as Chairman of the Anti-graft agency.
During his tenure, he made a name for himself as an incorruptible anti-corruption crusader endearing him to many Nigerians and prosecuting more than 1000 cases against politicians and businessmen which earned him both local and international awards.
During his tenure, he had alleged that over 380 billion dollars have been stolen from or wasted by the Nigerian government since 1960 and had charged prominent bankers, former state governors, ministers, senators, high-ranking politicians, and even commissioners of police.
One notable case during his tenure was the charge against his boss, the then Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun who was convicted, jailed, and made to return a sum of 150 million Euros. His effort also helped in prosecuting foreign businesses that offered and took bribes. Meanwhile, critics said he became a political pawn chasing only the enemies of Obasanjo while shielding the friends of the former president.
In 2007 when Umar Musa Yar’adua became the president, Ribadu was dismissed from his position and accused of not declaring his assets.
FARIDA MZAMBER WAZIRI
Farida Waziri was appointed as the Acting Chairperson of the EFCC by late President Umaru Yar’adua in May 2008 and resumed office after her confirmation by the Senate. During her tenure, the EFCC office prosecuted ex-governors and several high-level suspects.
In 2008, the EFCC arrested the former National Deputy Chairman of the PDP, Bode George and he was arraigned in court alongside four others on a 163 count-charge bothering on conspiracy, disobedience to lawful order, abuse of office, and illegal award of contracts worth N84 billion. He was found guilty and sentenced to jail for 30 months.
Waziri who was known to be a technocrat and a law enforcement officer was the only female to have become the EFCC boss. She was a nightmare for drug dealers, kingpins, and fraudsters, and she was known for her zero tolerance for corruption.
In June 2009, EFCC continued its efforts to prosecute former governors including Dr. Peter Odili of Rivers State, Senator Bola Tinubu of Lagos State, Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, Joshua Dariye of Plateau State, Saminu Turaki of Jigawa State, Jolly Nyame of Taraba State and Michael Botmang of Plateau State. Other high-level suspects being pursued included Senator Nicholas Ugbane and the former FCT Minister Nasir El-Rufai. She also said she would start to crack down on property ownership cases in Abuja.
Later that year, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission gave a list to the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress of 56 prominent Nigerians who allegedly had between them defrauded the nation of N243 billion.
On the 23rd of November 2011, Waziri was sacked by former President Goodluck Jonathan over several allegations relating to selective investigation and prosecution.
In 2009 Ibrahim Larmode was appointed as the Acting Chairman of the EFCC. In May 2011, Farida Mzamber took over the office but was dismissed a few months after and ACP Lamode was re-appointed and confirmed February 12, 2012, as the Chairman of the Agency despite the availability of other senior officers.
He was accused of diverting a recovered looted fund and at about $5bn (£3.2bn) was missing from the agency’s account. Though he denied the allegation and said,
“Even if all the money recovered by the EFCC was added up, together with its funding from government, it would not total $5bn.
“How can we divert an amount we don’t have?” he asked.
On November 9, 2015, Lamorde was sacked as the EFCC Chairman by President Muhammadu Buhari and replaced with Ibrahim Magu.
Ibrahim Magu was appointed on the 9th of November, 2015 by President Buhari as the EFCC chairman after Ibrahim Lamorde who had served twice was sacked and remained unconfirmed up until his suspension on the 7th of July, 2020.
He was seen as the best person for the job as he had worked with different EFCC bosses upon the establishment of the agency. But he kept being rejected by the 8th senate which opposed his confirmation on the basis that he lacked the integrity to head the agency.
He was accused and arrested of being in custody of EFCC classified Documents in 2008, and unable to account for looted funds.
On the 6th of July, 2020 Magu was rumored to have been forcibly arrested by the DSS and taken for Interrogations. Debunking the rumors, the DSS Spokesperson clarified the speculations and said Magu was only invited by the Presidency.
However, a day after, on the 7th of July, 2020, Magu was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari over corruption allegations leveled against him. He was replaced with Mohammed Umar who took over the administration of the commission while Magu’s investigations continued.
Magu had on the 10th of July, 2020 written to the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu to grant him bail as President Buhari had confirmed his suspension.
Meanwhile, the IGP on the 15th of July, 2020 had reacted to a letter dated 00C/TOL/89A/07/2020 of 10th July 2020, that he was not aware of Magu’s detention and cannot be involved in granting him bail, further adding that the letter should be addressed to the presidential panel.
“The Inspector-General of Police, therefore, advises that you consider re-directing your request to the Chairman of the presidential panel for appropriate attention”.
On May 29, 2018, the EFCC announced that 603 Nigerian figures had been convicted on corruption charges since Buhari and Magu assumed their offices in 2015. The EFCC also announced that for the first time in Nigeria’s history, judges and military officials were prosecuted.
Concerning who would be the new acting chairman of the Anti-Graft agency following Ibrahim Magu’s suspension, several names were speculated on social media.
MOHAMMED UMAR ABBA
Following the suspension of Ibrahim Magu, On the 8th of July, 2020, it was rumored that President Muhammadu Buhari had nominated Mohammed Umar as the new Acting EFCC boss.
Not much was heard about Umar while he was in office.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which has been operating under the supervision of an Acting Chairman for the past 6 years, finally got a confirmed chairman on the 16th of February, 2021 in the person of AbdulRasheed Bawa who was nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari and confirmed by the Senate on the 24th of February 2021 as the chairman of the agency.
His appointment might still be recent but during his tenure as the EFCC zonal head of the Port Harcourt and Lagos zonal offices, he successfully investigated and testified in the prosecution of many cases leading to convictions and the recovery of looted funds, being part of the prosecution of advanced fee fraud, official corruption, bank fraud, money laundering, and other economic and financial crimes.
Bawa headed the investigation of former petroleum minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke from 2015 to 2019 that led to the recovery of millions of dollars and properties.
How will Bawa’s tenure end? Will it be as unceremonious and disgraceful as the rest? Will it be characterized by allegations of selective justice, corruption, and power mishandling like those of his predecessors? Or will Bawa finally be that EFCC boss whose tenure and exit are positively referenced in the history of the agency? We can’t wait to find out.