AbdulRasheed Bawa: Nigeria’s 40-year Old New Anti-Corruption Chief

Nigeria has some of the oldest political office holders and government appointees in Africa. For a country with a massive youth presence, this is often considered not good enough.

The reality of this situation makes the appointment or election of any young Nigerian an interesting and laudable decision. Expectations naturally arise when a young Nigerian is elected or appointed, as a good performance becomes the pedestal for other young people to become more vocal about their chances.

Since its establishment in 2003, AbdulRasheed Bawa will become the youngest Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the nation’s anti-corruption watchdog. And this is seen as an interesting choice to Nigerians, mainly because of the age of the experienced anti-graft investigator.

However, what catches the eye about Bawa is not just his age, 40, which is not so youthful by global standards. It is his impressive resume, his experience and training.

A Deputy Chief Superintendent with the EFCC, Bawa will become the first substantive head of the anti-corruption agency since November 2015, if confirmed by the National Assembly.

He was in charge of cracking Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum Resources , Diezani Allison-Madueke and her cronies, in what has been one of Nigeria’s biggest corruption investigations in a while.

Bawa currently leads the Lagos zonal office of the EFCC and is held in high regard by the agency, being one of its pioneer cadet officers more than fifteen years ago.

Nuhu Ribadu, the first Chairman of the EFCC was appointed at the age of 43, while Farida Waziri was 59 when she was appointed into office. Ibrahim Lamorde was 49 while Ibrahim Magu who was the acting Chairman for five year, was 53 at the time of his appointment.

Until his suspension on the 7th of July 2020, Magu was not confirmed by the Senate in his five years in office. He was soon accused of corrupt practices and insubordination by Nigeria’s Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

After Magu’s failure to rid himself off the dirt that hung over his head with the Justice Ayo Salami commission, set up by the President Muhammadu Buhari to look into allegations of corruption against him, the panel recommended that the country’s anti-corruption chief should be removed from the Nigeria Police Force.

By Bawa’s nomination, the Nigerian government has heeded to that recommendation.

Who Is Nigeria’s New Anti-Corruption Chief?

Bawa hails from Jega in Kebbi State, Northeast Nigeria. He has spent more than fifteen years in the EFCC, and has been a part of the several crackdowns on advance fee fraud cases, money laundering, bank fraud and other economic crimes.

A certified Fraud Examiner, he has been trained in various parts of the world including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Financial crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN), the World Bank, the US office of Drug and Crimes, the Nigeria Police Force, the EFCC Academy and many more.

He is a graduate of Economics from the Usman Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto and also holds a Masters in International Affairs and Diplomacy from the same institution.

Bawa was a member of the pioneer cadet officers of the EFCC in 2005 and has been part of some of the agency’s most successful operations, which led to the recovery of billions of dollars and properties in various parts of the world.

Some of his conferences and seminars as an official of the EFCC include; ACAMS Global 24+ Virtual Conference (2020), ACFE Global Fraud Conference, Las Vegas, USA (June 2018), Global Forum on Assets Recovery (Gfar), Washington DC, USA (December 2017), and UNCAC Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Assets Recovery, Vienna, Austria (August 2017).

He was also a part of the UNCAC 8th Intersessional Meeting, Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Prevention, Vienna, Austria (August 2017); Nigerian Economic Society Annual Conference, Calabar. Nigeria (2009); EFCC Best Practices Manual Drafting Convocation (April 2017), EFCC Best Practices Manual Workshop (July 2017), EFCC Best Practices Manual Workshop (August 2017), and the Nigerian Economic Society Annual Conference Calabar, Nigeria (2009).

He has worked in crackdowns on several Nigerian politicians and secured hundreds of convictions. As the head of the Lagos Zonal office, he has secured 227 convictions and also helped the EFCC to 215, when he led the Port Harcourt zonal office.

Bawa is coming with a lot of expectations and his confirmation as the substantive Chairman of the EFCC is expected to bring sanity to the agency, which has been battling with issues of corrupt leadership since the accusations around Magu came into full public glare.

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