By Babatunde O. Olawoyin
The fight against economic and financial crimes in Africa’s biggest economy, no doubt, has received a touch of professionalism in the last few years. Nigeria appears to have gone past the era of media trials of cases, which usually end in lack of diligent prosecution. At the beginning of the 4th Republic, the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, created two agencies that would tackle the hydra-headed monster that corruption had become !
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was one of such agencies that was created by the law in 1999 to fight the corruption scourge. The agency was not immune to challenges usually faced by new organisations. Its operations became the subject of discourse at the highest level, even outside the shores of Nigeria. Whereas it recorded some successes at the beginning, its operations could not pass the test of the international community and its parameters for human rights.
Even with the high profile convictions recorded, EFCC was still regarded as an attack dog and a tool for witch-hunt by the federal government against perceived and imagined opposition. The organisation was not given any chance just because of a few infractions that could have been avoided if the staff of the agency had been properly trained and grown in ranks.
EFCC was a new agency that had no staff that had been trained by the provisions, which created it except those that were seconded by sister agencies. That was why the operations of the agency couldn’t conform with abc of the EFCC acts. However, as time went on, it birthed an academy that has now become a toast of the international community of intelligence.
The emergence of Abdulrasheed Bawa as the Chairman of the EFCC has brought about professionalism to the fight against economic and financial crimes in Nigeria. With experience spanning over 17 years in the country’s flagship anti-graft agency, Bawa has turned around EFCC for an effective fight against corruption. It is a thing of pride and joy to see that for the first time, a home-grown product of the academy has been given the mantle of leadership, unlike in the past.
Within two years on the saddle, Bawa firmly held his ground and faced down shadowy forces, which have vowed to swamp and bleed out the nation with financial and economic criminality. Bawa has spent all his working life at the EFCC since he joined in 2004; also, being a member of pioneering course one in 2005.
On the international stage, the EFCC under the chairmanship of Bawa has been able to synergize with other bodies globally because as the saying goes, ”criminality knows no border” In his words, he said that time has come to put an end to all forms of financial crimes. It is sacrosanct that a strong vision draws in new ideas, people, and other resources. Enlisting this philosophy, Bawa has demonstrated a high level of discipline, a driven ideology of tenacity to ensure that the narrative about Nigeria in the area of money laundering and other financial crimes are put to a stop despite extreme challenges.
Babatunde O. Olawoyin is the coordinator of the Commitee of Christian Intellectual for Good Governance (CCIGG)