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#LeadershipTalks: That EFCC boy—Bawa ~ by Muiz Banire


Today, I am engaging us on the controversial issue of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) leadership. In the last one week, the issue has been trending in various forms. #LeadershipTalks

I am fascinated into the discussion by the age of the nominated chair who is forty years old.

I had the privilege of becoming a Commissioner in the Lagos State cabinet at the age of about thirty-three and spent twelve years in service as the youngest member of the State Executive Council. This propelled my interest in the subject.

Muiz Banire, SAN
The author, Muiz Banire, SAN

Upon the announcement of the young man, Abdulrasheed Ibrahim Bawa, as the Chair designate of the Commission, news immediately went round that he was involved in illegal sale of petroleum products while serving as the zonal head of the Commission in Port Harcourt.

It was said that he even suffered detention for same. Few days later, the Commission made a release debunking the allegations and giving him a clean bill of health. This fizzled out.

Again, the allegation that the nominee was not qualified by Section 2 of the Act setting up the Commission to be the Chairman because he was not at the level required in the Commission equivalent of Assistant Commissioner of Police.

This is still trending and has made a legal practitioner to approach the court for a determination of the question.

My response to the issue of equivalent or not, is simply that the competence to determine the equivalent lies exclusively with the Senate that is vested with the power to determine the nominee’s qualification.

This is not new as the electoral tribunal has determined similar clauses in the Constitution and the Electoral Act. It is noteworthy also that the appropriate Civil Service Commission at all times determines the right grading in intra-movement of officers.

You can be level 16 in a parastatal and moved to 14 if you cross to the main stream public service and in any other shape. Identical thing happens when moving across states or from state to federal, or vice versa.

The point being made is that there is no singular rule for the determination of the question of grading in the public service.

Unfortunately, the suit in court is likely not to get to the stage of any pronouncement as it is not only premature but lacks a cause of action. No arm of government can prevent the other from performing its statutory duty.

The Senate is yet to take a position and as as such, nothing to interrogate in court. Besides all the above, the development of elevation of the nominee alongside his course mates would seem to have put a lid on the issue.

If, as speculated in the media that the promotion is retrospective to a year, it certainly means that there is no point for further agitation of the issue. Back-dating promotion in the civil service is not a novel thing as it is even more of a practice than exception.

Assuming, however, that it is not even back-dated, the point of relevance of the qualification of the nominee is at the screening stage. If that gap had existed before, it can be said to be now cured by the elevation and the issue is now academic.

Beyond all these issues of legalism, I am a strong supporter of the nominee for some reasons. Firstly, as indicated above, I am a fervent believer in the youths taking over the leadership of the country.

Beyond the competence, they are the ones with the required energy to move the nation forward.

Secondly, I have not heard from any quarters that the young man is not qualified beyond the mere allegations being peddled around. Thirdly, he is a product of the academy and not a policeman.

My experience with the Commission and as even confessed by the detectives, the challenges they have, particularly in misconduct are products of their intermingling with the men of the Nigeria Police.

If the young man were to be a lawyer, he would amongst other criteria be qualified for appointment into the highest court of the land, having served for fifteen years plus in the Commission.

I remember coming across the nominee in the course of my professional engagement with the Commission, he may not remember, I was on the other side of the divide.

I couldn’t get what my client desired and was bitter, the point, however, remains that I left with the satisfaction of his professional competence.

I am not concerned with all other parochial issues that I have consistently denounced in my engagements, quota system and federal character, being the worst evils

In the circumstances, I am of the strong view that the young man must be encouraged to serve as a good ambassador of the youths while clamouring and begging the “powers that be” to free him from any pressure or political interference. He must be insulated.

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