Over 100 anti-corruption Civil Society Organisations and thousands of their members and supporters staged a massive protest in Lagos yesterday in continuation of their call for the removal of the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, over alleged continued disobedience of court orders.
Leaders of the groups who began what they described as a “Week Long Protest Against Politicisation of the EFCC, disobedience of court orders and infringement on human rights of Nigerians on Friday, said many CSOs called to join the struggle after the maiden press conference held in Lagos.
EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren couldn’t react to the story as messages sent to his WhatsApp and calls to his line were not answered.
The CSOs were joined by senior lawyers at the rally staged through the streets of Ikeja, ending at the Oregun Junction in Ikeja, Lagos.
They noted that they were aware of the persistent pressure on and intimidation of the Nigerian media to underplay the dissatisfaction of the anti-corruption CSOs with Bawa, stressing that no amount of intimidation would make them give up their collective struggle against corruption and leaders undermining the struggle.
Spokesperson for the Transparency and Accountability Group, Ayodeji Ologun, who spoke on behalf of the anti-corruption CSOs, said the coalition of anti-corruption organisations could not watch the country’s legal system being bastardised by the selfish interests of a few, insisting that if Bawa was bent on playing politics, he should get a membership card from any of the political parties.
He said the need to press home their grievance strongly and call for the removal of the EFCC boss was founded on the realisation that some anti-democratic elements were drawing the civil societies back in the fight against corruption.
According to the CSOs, the fixation of the EFCC boss on certain individuals and institutions “when grievous petitions capable of bringing the economy down are left unattended, gives the anti-corruption war, under the leadership of Mr. Bawa, a dangerously political colouration.”
Ologun said, “We are beginning to see anti-democratic elements within the Democratic process, who are daily drawing us back in the fight against corruption. This is a coalition of different civil society organisations against corruption. For a while now, we have observed the EFCC Chairman flagrantly disobeying court orders. And we believe that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. If you are at the helm of affairs of an anti-graft body and you find it difficult to obey court ruling, such a person is a law breaker. You cannot be in charge of taming corruption in the county and you yourself would be a culprit of disobeying court order.”
Executive Director, Centre for Public Accountability, Olufemi Lawson, who called on the media to be partners in the struggle for a better society by resisting intimidation, said, “We are not unaware of the persistent pressure on the media to downplay what is happening currently at the EFCC. This is just one of the series of actions that we are going to be undertaking as Nigerians. We will not relent until the Commission begins to toe the path of the rule of law.
On his part, 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.