On Tuesday, 40-year old Abdulrasheed Bawa was nominated chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari.
There are a lot of firsts attached with the nomination of the Kebbi State born Bawa.
If confirmed by the Nigerian senate (which many consider a formality) he will become the agency’s youngest chairman in its 18-year history. He is set to also be the first chairman to be appointed from among the trained cadets of the EFCC academy where he graduated in February 2017.
Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina in a statement on Tuesday announced Bawa’s appointment to lead an anti-graft agency that is now seen by many as “corrupt”, the main reason it was set up, to tackle economy and financial related corruption. The former acting boss of the commission Ibrahim Magu was also in a corruption scandal that led to his suspension.
Bawa joined the EFCC in 2005 and was deployed to the Lagos zonal office, serving under all the previous chairpersons of the commission and held key positions.
A copy of his curriculum vitae which was obtained by ARISE News, shows the young Bawa as having investigated a number of high-profile cases at the EFCC in recent years.
Since 2015, the deputy chief detective superintendent has been leading investigations into the corruption allegations against Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum resources accused of looting billions of Naira from Nigeria’s treasury.
The anti-graft agency is already seeking to extradite the former minister from the United Kingdom where she relocated shortly before the inception of Buhari’s administration.
Bawa is also on the heels of Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, a former governor of Niger who is being prosecuted for allegedly laundering N2 billion belonging to the state government.
Bawa was involved in other prominent cases such as the $6.8 billion petroleum subsidy fraud scandal that rocked the Goodluck Jonathan administration, controversial oil deals involving Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts (AEDC) Ltd that cost Nigeria huge sums of money between 2011 and 2015, shady crude oil swap deals in which Nigeria lost billions of Naira between 2014 and 2015 among others.
To date, he has served as the head of three zones — in Port Harcourt, Ibadan and, most recently, Lagos.
At the Ibadan zonal office which he led from June 2018 to January 2019, 113 of the cases he supervised were concluded and 54 charged to court within six months, according to his CV.
In Port Harcourt where he operated as zonal head from January 2019 to December 2019, he was said to have recorded 215 convictions in 11 months while in Lagos where he has operated as zonal head since August 2020, 227 convictions have reportedly been secured since his redeployment.
Bawa also led the EFCC’s “Operation Cyber Storm One” in which more than 60 suspected advance fee fraudsters and cybercrime perpetrators were prosecuted in 2008.
He has also garnered experience from various roles including as head of capacity development division, EFCC Academy, Abuja; head of the counter-terrorism and general investigation/pension unit as well as head of advance fee fraud section team at Lagos zonal office; head of economic governance team at the Abuja zonal office.
A graduate of Usmanu Danfodio University Sokoto where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics and master’s degree in international affairs and diplomacy, Bawa is pursuing a bachelor of law degree at the University of London.
He has been trained by world-class institutions including the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners — all in the United States.
In 2008, he was part of a financial analysis and domestic cooperation training at the Global Training Consulting, London, United Kingdom, and, in 2007, attended the United State Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Training of Trainers.
Bawa will definitely be looking out at ensuring corrupt personnel from the commission are exposed and as well prosecute cases notwithstanding political affiliations.
While Mr Magu is still being interrogated for allegedly re-looting recovered loot, attention may now shift to the soon to be young chairman, with the anti-graft agency battling to regain public trust.