The newly appointed Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, has arrived the plenary to be screened by the Senate.
Already the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, had ordered the distribution of the copies of the Curriculum Vitae to all the senators to enable them study the documents before the commencement of the screening.
Bawa’s nomination has been dogged by a petition and litigation.
Already, a civil society organisation, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, had petitioned the Senate asking it to halt further action on his screening or confirmation until he cleared himself of the allegations against him.
Also a legal practitioner, Osuagwu Ugochukwu, had approached an Abuja Federal High Court to stop the red chamber from confirming Bawa pending the determination of his suit against the acting EFCC boss.
Bawa’s accusers have hinged their action on a case of alleged theft yet to be addressed by him and the fact that his rank was too low to head the EFCC, according to the Act which established the agency.
However, the Senate Spokesperson, Dr. Ajibola Basiru had declined comments when our correspondent asked him on Sunday what step the upper chamber would take on the issue following the latest development.
Basiru had told our correspondent last week that the Senate had not received any petition against the confirmation of Bawa.
He, had had said that he was not aware that there was any petition before the Senate on Bawa.
The Senate Spokesperson, however said such petition would be treated according to its merit if received by the red chamber.
Basiru had said, “The Senate has said that the acting EFCC chairmanship nominee will be screened at plenary.
“To the best of my knowledge, there is no petition against him.
“For openness, he is going to be screened by the Senate at plenary so that Nigerians can watch the screening exercise.
“If there is any petition against him we are ready to consider it, if it is meritorious.”
CACOL had written the Senate urging it not confirm the appointment of Bawa “until he clears himself of an allegation of corruption.”
The letter to the Senate on Thursday last week, was signed by the chairman of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran.
Part of the letter read, “We are, therefore, constrained at this point in time to bring to your attention our critical reaction to the nomination of Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa as the chairman of EFCC.
“While recognising the president’s constitutional prerogative and right to make appointments in accordance with Paragraph 2(3) of Part 1, CAP E1 of EFCC Act 2004, the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership considers it a service to the nation, by providing information that might be helpful to your ratification in that regard.
“We would like the hallowed chamber of the Senate to note the following contradictions before screening the newly nominated chairman of the EFCC:
“The chairman-designate was alleged to have diverted 224 forfeited trucks while he was the Port Harcourt zonal head of the Commission.
“He was also alleged to have been involved in oil theft sometime in the past.
“According to EFCC Establishment Act, Section 2a (ii) the chairman to be appointed should: be a serving or retired member of any security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent.
“Such equivalence in the EFCC is Grade Level 15, while Bawa is on Grade Level 13.”
Similarly, Ugochukwu, the lawyer who approached the court to quash Bawa’s appointment, gave the Senate and Bawa, 30 days to prove why the appointment should be sustained.
The lawyer is seeking two principal reliefs, including a true interpretation and construction of Section 2(1)(a)(ii) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004, whether Bawa is qualified to be appointed chairman of the anti-graft agency and whether the Senate is competent in law to confirm the appointment of Bawa, who is deemed to fall short of the requirement of Section 2)(1)(a)(ii) of the EFCC Establishment Act 2004.
Osuagwu is also seeking three declarations to determine the fate of the suit, including that Bawa is a Grade Level 13 public officer and not an Assistant Commissioner of Police or it’s equivalent and therefore not qualified to be chairman of the Commission, as well as an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Senate from confirming Bawa’s appointment as chairman of the EFCC and any other order(s) the court may deem fit in the circumstance.
The suit, which came through an originating summons, has since been served on the office of the Senate President, with proof of service acknowledged on Thursday, February 18.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan had on Tuesday last week, read the official communication from the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, (retd.) seeking the Senate’s confirmation for Bawa.