Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday in Abuja, alleged that persons under probe by the commission were orchestrating the call for his sack.
Bawa said this at a news conference in reaction to what he termed as sponsored campaign of calumny against him by a Civil Society Organisation.
The EFCC chairman, who spoke through the commission’s Spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said he would not be distracted by the antics of the group.
According to him, the group has through press conferences and street protests called for his sack over alleged disobedience of court orders.
He said that the campaign of calumny would fail and urged the public to disregard the group.
Bawa assured that the EFCC had never undermined the judiciary.
“Contrary to these claims, the EFCC wishes to alert the public that this group have no interest in the fight against corruption.
“And their allusion to disobedience of court orders by the EFCC chairman is an alibi to manipulate facts around judicial pronouncements and processes to pitch the public against the commission.
“Information available to the commission indicates that the group is sponsored by persons under investigation by the Commission.
“And have been mobilized and mandated by their paymaster to embarrass the person of the chairman through choreographed street protests across the country, until he is removed from office,” he said.
Bawa explained that the group found its voice after the EFCC launched an investigation into the mindless looting of the treasury of one of the states in the country.
The EFCC boss said the same group had shouted that the commission lacked the power to investigate the theft of the state’s resources.
“Their latest dance in the market square came a few hours after family members of a sitting state governor were arraigned at an Abuja court for allegedly stealing the state’s funds.
“EFCC appeals to the public to disregard the campaign by this group as they do not represent the genuine interest of millions of Nigerians who are desirous of seeing progress in the fight against corruption.”
He said that the rented crowd and CSOs being used by the group was a demonstration of how deep-seated corruption had permeated every sector of the society.
“We want to assure Nigerians that the EFCC will not be distracted by this campaign of calumny as we believe that this agenda will fail.
“It is also important to reassure Nigerians and all stakeholders that the Commission has never, and will not take any step to undermine the judiciary.
“As a law abiding institution, EFCC has conducted all its activities within the ambit of the law.
“Where judicial decisions were made against it, it has never resorted to self-help but availed itself of remedies under the law as it did in the instant case of committal orders of court,” he said.
According to him, it is important to revisit the circumstances of the two orders of committal against him so that the public will be properly informed of the cases.
He explained that the first order by an FCT High Court on Nov. 8, 2022 was issued over the failure to comply with a Nov. 21, 2018 order of the court directing the Commission to return seized assets comprising a Range Rover SUV and the sum of N40 million to the applicant.
Bawa said that it was important for the public to understand that the said order of the FCT High Court was given three years before he became EFCC Chairman.
“Also, the contempt process is quasi criminal in nature and must be served on the person involved. In this case, Bawa as Chairman of the EFCC, was neither served Form 48 nor Form 49.
“In spite of this fact, the Executive Chairman, upon being made aware of the said order of Nov. 21, 2018, had released the Range Rover in question to the Applicant on the 27th of June, 2022.
“And, had approved the process of the release of the remaining N40 million before the committal order was issued,” he said.
Bawa said his response did not show contempt for the court or the judiciary which he held in great esteem.
He added that in the case of the last order by Justice R.O. Ayoola of the Kogi High Court, the processes were still ongoing and would not make categorical statement on it.
“Suffice it to say that in invoking Form 49, the court failed to take cognizance of a pending appeal of its ruling of November 30, which directed the Commission to produce a fraud suspect, one Ali Bello.
“It also failed to transmit records of appeal to the Court of Appeal.
“The commission believes it was denied fair hearing as the alleged infringement of the rights of the applicant happened in Abuja which is outside the jurisdiction of the Kogi High court.
“As a law abiding institution, EFCC approached the appellate court, for a stay of execution. This is a valid and lawful remedy by law and does not evoke any aura of impunity or disregard for the judiciary.
“ It is therefore evident that those claiming that Bawa has a penchant for flouting court orders are simply up to mischief, which is clearly the central theme of the plot by the so-called civil society group.” (NAN)