By OLUWATOPE LAWANSON
LAGOS- Scores of supporters under the Coalition of Anti-Corruption Organisation have called for the removal of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Chairman, Mr AbdulRasheed Bawa.
According to them, the call for removal from office is over alleged consistent disobedience of court orders.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the call was made during a protest on Saturday in Lagos.
The coalition, comprising about 50 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), was joined by senior lawyers including Cletus Okedube, Johnson Areola and George Sanda, among other notable activists.
Mr Ayodeji Ologun, Spokesperson for the Transparency and Accountability Group, spoke on behalf of the anti-corruption CSOs, and described gathering as protest against “Politicisation of the EFCC, Disobedience of Court Orders and Infringement on Human Rights of Nigerians” .
They called on President Muhammadu Buhari to also overhaul the anti-graft commission in order to recover its past glory and for a better Nigeria.
He said the need to press home their grievances strongly was founded on the realisation that some anti-democratic elements were drawing the civil societies back in the fight against corruption.
Ologun advised the commission’s Chairman to obey court rulings being at the helm of affairs adding that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.
He said: “You cannot be in charge of taming corruption in the county and be a culprit of disobeying court order.
“One of the essence of leadership is obeying the tenets of democracy and the rule of law and key to that is court ruling.”
Ologun said EFCC under Mr Bawa allegedly had the penchant for disobedience of lawful court orders and had politicised activities.
According to him, Bawa has been allegedly convicted to prison terms on about three different occasions within the space of months for clear breach of the extant orders of the court.
“We must at this point make it clear that any form of disobedience to lawful orders of the court is not only an act of monumental corruption but also indicates a dangerous signal to the institutions of our democracy and the memories of those who sacrificed their lives for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria.
“For the EFCC to recover its past glory, it must retrace its steps with the President overhauling its leadership.
“This culture of impunity continues to ridicule Nigeria in the comity of nations and sabotage efforts at attracting foreign direct investment.
“It is even more worrisome that this blatant disobedience of valid court orders is coming on the heels of efforts by stakeholders to galvanise more support for the war against corruption in the country.
“We, hereby, demand that immediate steps be taken to ensure that EFCC does not derail his avowed commitment to the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights of citizens by removing Mr Bawa as the chairman of the commission,” he said.
Similarly, Mr Olufemi Lawson, Convener of the coalition comprising about 50 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and Chairman, Centre for Public Accountability, called on the media to be partners in the struggle for a better society by resisting intimidation,.
“We will not relent until the Commission begins to toe the path of the rule of law.
“We are glad that the media has refused to compromise and we will continue this struggle until the President overhauls the EFCC,” he said
On his part, Mr Declan Ihehaire, of the Activists for Good Governance, said if Bawa had been committed to prison for disobeying Court order, he must go to prison.
NAN reports that Leaders of the anti-corruption CSOs that began the call for the removal of Bawa included the Chairman, Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran; Executive Director, Zero Graft Centre, Kolawole Sanchez-Jude; Chairman, Coalition Against Corruption and Bad Governance, Toyin Raheem.
Others are: Executive Director, Centre for Public Accountability, Olufemi Lawson; Ahmed Balogun of Media Rights Concern, Ologun Ayodeji,
Transparency and Accountability Group; Declan Ihehaire, Activists for Good Governance; and Ochiaga Jude, Centre for Ethics and Good Governance, among many others. (NAN)