The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has disclosed that the arrest and continued detention of its suspended Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, has not stopped the anti-graft agency from carrying out its statutory duty.
Speaking in an interview with The PUNCH, the spokesperson for the commission, Wilson Uwujaren, said Bawa’s detention would not stop the probe of both high- and low-profile persons suspected of corrupt practices.
Bawa has now spent precisely 75 days in the custody of the Department of State Service following his arrest in June, the EFCC has yet to arrest or probe any high-profile suspect, including former and incumbent governors and ministers such as Bello Matawalle, Yahaya Bello, and Kayode Fayemi, all of whom were under probe of the commission before the assumption of the acting EFCC Chairman Abdulkarim Chukkol, to office.
Recall that Bawa had in May 2023 revealed that the EFCC was investigating Matawalle over an alleged N70bn contract fraud. Months before then, the commission had revealed its ongoing probe of Yahaya Bello and some of his relatives over 14 properties and N400million alleged to be proceeds of corruption, while Fayemi was said to be under investigation and was invited by the commission over an alleged misappropriation of N4billion.
President Bola Tinubu had suspended Bawa over alleged abuse of office.
However, Bawa has since remained in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) in Abuja since June 14.
Many senior lawyers have called for the release of Bawa, describing his indefinite detention as unlawful.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Rotimi Jacobs, had last week Monday said the continued detention of Bawa is baseless and could no longer be justified according to the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 bordering on remand order.
The foremost EFCC prosecutor said it is evident that the maximum period a suspect can be detained in Nigeria through a remand order is 56 days.
Jacobs stated that Bawa has been in detention for a long time contrary to the rule of law, a situation which all lovers of democracy must condemn.
The senior lawyer, therefore, called on the relevant authorities to be guided appropriately and tow the part of justice in the Bawa case and other similar cases.
On his part, human rights lawyer Femi Falana, SAN, on the 20th of August, demanded the immediate release of the suspended Chairman of the EFCC from the custody of the DSS.
Falana submitted that the remand order issued by a Magistrate Court in the Federal Capital Territory “has become spent, invalid and illegal as no magistrate has the power under section 493 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 or section 35 of the Constitution of Nigeria to authorize the detention of a criminal suspect for 67 days without trial.”
He called on the government to ensure that the DSS and the office of the Director of Public Prosecution in the Federal Ministry of Justice respect the rights of Bawa.