Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday, denied allegation that its chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, lacks respect for court orders. This came as protest by over 100 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) against alleged ‘Politicisation of the EFCC, Disobedience of Court Orders and Infringement on Human Rights of Nigerians’, continued, yesterday, as the activists vowed never to be intimidated by what they described as fresh falsehood being peddled by the anti-graft agency.
The protesters, who marched through the streets of Ikeja and converged on the Lagos State House of Assembly, Alausa, said majority of Nigerians are intelligent people, who can easily differentiate between a genuine cause and a sponsored one.
They added that there is no going back on call for the removal of Bawa. The activists alleged that the EFCC has resorted to cheap blackmail to divert the public from its lawlessness. They said this has only compounded its problems and further exposed the alleged dangerous political agenda of its chairman.
Spokesperson for Transparency and Accountability Group, who spoke shortly after the protesters arrived at the Lagos Assembly, said the CSOs were there to submit a petition to the National Assembly through the Speaker.
But speaking at a briefing in Abuja, EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said the groups staging the protests have no interest in the fight against corruption.
He said the Commission believed it was denied fair hearing, and that as a law-abiding institution, the EFCC had approached the appellate court for a stay of execution.
Uwujaren, however, did not say whether the stay of execution had been granted to forestall order for the arrest of Bawa by the Inspector-General of Police. He said the protests were sponsored against the EFCC chairman to discredit his person. According to him, the protesters’ 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.
He said: “Information available to the Commission, indicates that the group is sponsored by persons under investigation by the Commission and have been mobilised 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.
“It is significant that this group found its voice after the EFCC launched an investigation into mindless looting of the treasury of one of the states. This same group 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.
“The spectre of rented crowd, rented CSOs, etc., are blights in our social fabric and manifest demonstration of how deep-seated corruption has permeated every sector of our society.”