Abdulrasheed Bawa, the Chairman-designate of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has been illegally promoted to Chief Detective Superintendent on Grade Level 14 without regard for public service rules.

SaharaReporters gathered that the promotion was backdated to March 2020 to correct the error occasioned by his nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Also, no promotion examination or appraisal was done before he was promoted.

On Tuesday, Buhari asked the Senate to confirm Bawa as the substantive chairman of the EFCC in clear violation of the law establishing the anti-graft agency.

According to documents seen by SaharaReporters, the Kebbi born detective was recruited into EFCC in 2004/2005 and has only spent 16 years in service and on Grade Level 13.

Meanwhile, the EFCC (Establishment) Act, Section 2a (ii)(iii) says the chairman to be appointed should “be a serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent; and possess not less than 15 years cognate experience.”

Such equivalence in the EFCC is Grade Level 15, while Bawa is on Grade Level 13.

Embarrassed by the error, inside sources told SaharaReporters that the chairman-designate has been promoted from Deputy Chief Detective Superintendent to Chief Detective Superintendent on Grade Level 14, with his promotion letter backdated to March 2020.

“The agency, acting on an order from above, to correct the error occasioned by Bawa’s nomination just promoted him and backdated his promotion to March 2020.”

“Now the person who carried out the promotion had no mandate to do so because he too was never designated as acting chairman. 

“But they were not that clever; Bawa was on Grade Level 13; they promoted him illegally to Grade Level 14. But with his level, he can’t constitutionally become EFCC chairman. So, his confirmation by the National Assembly will still be a violation of the EFCC Establishment Act,” a source told SaharaReporters.

Many Nigerians, including the South-West, South-East, South-South and Middle Belt leaders, have faulted Bama’s appointment, saying he was not fit for the anti-graft agency.

SaharaReporters had reported how President Buhari failed to act on a 13-page investigation report exposing how the EFCC chairman designate’s corrupt practices in 2019.

The report was titled, ‘Investigation Report – Re: Alleged Case of Conspiracy, abuse of office and criminal diversion of Federal Government Properties’, in which the suspect was Abdulrasheed Bawa, and which detailed how he was recommended for disciplinary actions.

It was learnt that the report was forwarded to the President’s office, but the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, influenced how it was dumped and not acted upon by President Buhari.

The report noted that “more disheartening is the discovery that the zonal head of the Port Harcourt office sold a vessel which was under his custody. The commission that prides itself to be the vanguard in the fight against corruption cannot condone this ignoble and discreditable conduct by its officers.

“Against the background of such offences, the EFCC stated that 'the requisite disciplinary processes have commenced against them. The full weight of administrative and disciplinary sanctions will be brought against them in tandem with our extant Staff Regulation. Also, after the vetting of the case file by the Commission’s Legal and Prosecution Department, they will face the appropriate criminal procedure.”

But it was learnt that Malami ensured that Bawa was spared and the erstwhile embattled acting Chairman, Magu, was ousted out of office before actions would be taken on the report.

A top source said, “Buhari never read the report because he was very unaware of his environment and doesn’t read. That report was the full details of Bawa, the newly nominated EFCC Chairman, as sent to Buhari.

“The AGF also quickly intervened and covered up the crime by refusing to approve of charges to be filed against Bawa and others. Magu was removed before he could act.”

The report forwarded to Buhari partly reads, “The Commission’s Zonal Office in Port-Harcourt had earlier in July 2019 secured a Final Forfeiture Order for Two Hundred and Forty-Four (244) Trucks/ Vehicles and the Petroleum products contained therein to the Federal Government.

“The Zonal Head in the Port Harcourt Office informed me of this development based on which I wrote letter-number EFCC/EC/P/01/663 dated July 29, 2019, to Your Excellency. The letter sought Your Excellency’s approval to auction the Two Hundred and Forty-Four (244) Trucks/ Vehicles and the Petroleum products contained therein. 

“This approval was graciously granted by Your Excellency and conveyed via letter-number PRES/72/EFCC/21 dated August 5, 2019.

“Following Your Excellency’s approval, the Commission commenced the auctioning processes to ensure adherence to due process, transparency and accountability. To this effect, I constituted an Auction/Disposal Committee headed by the Commission Secretary in line with the Court Order and the EFCC Establishment Act 2004. The Term of Reference of the Auction/Disposal Committee was to organise the auctioning of the 244 Trucks and Vehicles To members of the public in the most transparent manner.

“After selecting the auctioneers, the 244 Trucks and Vehicles were advertised in the national dailies for interested members of the public. The Commission also engaged the Federal Ministry of Works & Housing and the National Automotive Design and Development Council for the evaluation of the 244 Trucks and Vehicles. Against this background, the auction was fixed for 17th to December 21, 2019.

“Regrettably, it was when the Team arrived in Port Harcourt to commence the Auction sale that they discovered Zonal Head; Port Harcourt Office had released Forty-Five (45) trucks/vehicles from the 244 Trucks and Vehicles slated for the auction sale back to the suspects from whom the assets were seized, recovered and forfeited to the federal government at the N100,000 each.

“Investigation conducted so far has revealed the following findings: one, the Port-Harcourt Zonal Office through its Legal Unit filed an ex parte motion on the May 27, 2019 request from the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt a temporary forfeiture order of Two Hundred and Forty-Four (244) trucks/vehicles and petroleum products contained therein to the Federal Government.

“The Zonal Head ignored the minutes on case file of CTGI/PS, CR382/2018 minute 10 and CR466/2018 minute 25, drawing his attention to the fact that the Forty-Five (45) trucks/ vehicles earmarked for release were already subject of final forfeiture order granted by the Federal High Court.

“At the commencement of the investigation, the team discovered that 25 trucks have already been released to the owners while 20 were at the point of being released, but they were directed to forthwith stop further release of the trucks/vehicles.”

The report added that it was very clear that the “totality of the conduct of the Zonal Head, Port Harcourt and other suspects exude gross ineptitude from which criminal intent can be imputed.”

“Your Excellency, from the investigation, conducted, it is obvious that the totality of the conduct of the Zonal Head, Port Harcourt and other suspects exude gross ineptitude from which criminal intent can be imputed. Having informed my office of the final forfeiture of Two Hundred and Forty-Four (244) Trucks/ Vehicles and the Petroleum products contained therein to the Federal Government in July 2019, he never informed me of his involvement in a plea bargain in respect of the 45 trucks/vehicles which were already properties of the Federal Government.

“It is essential to respectfully inform Your Excellency that the Zonal Head of the Port Harcourt office was at different times warned both orally and in writing of the dangers and implications of entering into a plea bargain in respect of the trucks/vehicles since they have been finally forfeited to the Federal Government. Regrettably, he dismissed these warnings with a wave of the hand.

“Your Excellency, suffice it to say that the conduct of the Zonal Head of the Port Harcourt office and other erring officers is highly reprehensible, to say the least. This conduct is completely at variance with the high professional and ethical standards that I have set for Officers of the Commission,” the report added.

These were some of the findings made by a team of investigators led by the Director, Internal Affairs, which proceeded to the Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the Commission to investigate the matter as directed by Magu on December 17, 2019.

But instead of acting on the report, Buhari on Tuesday announced Bawa as the new chairman of the EFCC.

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