- Say ‘we’re patriotic, can’t be intimidated’
More Anti-corruption Civil Society Organisations on Wednesday joined over 120 CSOs to continue with the agitation for the removal of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa.
However, the activists said they had uncovered plans by the EFCC boss to hurriedly raise what they called questionable groups to protest in solidarity with him.
The activists, their members and supporters, who, again, trooped out on the streets of Lagos in their thousands, said, unfortunately for Bawa, Nigerians were aware of what the fight against corruption had turned to in Nigeria under his leadership at the EFCC.
According to them, lavishing money on groups willing to be used against the wellbeing of Nigerians and the rule of law “is the stock in trade of the EFCC boss and others like him in the current administration.”
The CSOs, who had petitioned the National Assembly against the “Politicisation of the EFCC, Disobedience of Court Orders, and Infringement on Human Rights of Nigerians” the previous day, said they were rugged anti-corruption and pro-democracy activists, who had been in the struggle for over 30 years and would continue the ‘Bawa Must Go’ protest until he leaves office.
Director, Activists for Good Governance, Declan Ihehaire, who had been vocal from the first day of the protests, said, “We are rugged, patriotic activists who will not bow to any intimidation. Struggle is not new to us and we cannot be bought by anybody. When we believe in a cause, especially when it is in the interest of the majority of Nigerians and the fight against corruption, we will give it our all.
“Bawa has continued to display disregard for the rule of law, even with the latest outburst of the EFCC in a press conference. He should stop chasing shadows. He is not bigger than the law and no one can intimidate us. When you see Debo Adeniran, Sanchez-Jude, Ayo Ologun and co leading a struggle, you must know that it is a just one. We come out in the sun to press home our demands for you to know how serious this matter is.
“This is technically the 6th day because we rested on Sunday. There is no retreat, no surrender. Bawa must vacate the office, no matter who is behind him. Many Nigerians supported President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 because they knew his anti-corruption stance. See what that has become now – an embarrassment. EFCC has derailed, it is now politicised, and we say Bawa must excuse us so that a right thinking official can come in to sanitise the system and truly serve Nigerians,” he added.
On his part, President, Coalition of Yoruba Youth Councils, Abe Emmanuel Kolawole, said he had to join the struggle, having studied the mode of operation of the EFCC since Bawa took over the office.
He said, considering the disgrace meted on the former EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu, to bring Bawa on board, it was glaring after a while that Bawa was allegedly planted to use EFCC as a tool for political vendetta rather than as an instrument of anti-corruption.
Kolawole said, “What we are here again to tell the EFCC Chairman, straight and direct, is that Nigeria is not a Banana Republic; that Nigeria is not a place where a law enforcement officer will not obey our law; where people that are public servants would see ordinary Nigerians as fools, and see themselves as above the law. It is very simple. As EFCC chairman, you have taken so many people to court, you have convicted them, they have obeyed the court order, they have been sentenced to prison. Now, it is your own turn, you were taken to court and subsequently, the judgment went against you.
“What we are saying is very simple: it is either you resign or go to prison. Even if you want to appeal the case, you must first obey and then you can appeal. If the court then finds you free, you can go home. We have said it consistently, if you want to come into equity, you must come with clean hands. Bawa’s hands are not clean.”
The ‘Bawa Must Go’ protests are being led by CACOL Chairman, Debo Adeniran; Executive Director, Zero Graft Centre, Kolawole Sanchez-Jude; Chairman, Coalition Against Corruption and Bad Governance, Toyin Raheem; Executive Director, Centre for Public Accountability, Olufemi Lawson; spokesperson for the Transparency and Accountability Group, Ayodeji Ologun; Director, Activists for Good Governance, Declan Ihehaire; and Ahmed Balogun of Media Rights Concern, among over 120 notable leaders of Anti-corruption CSOs.