NewsNigeriaBawa must go: more than 100 CSOs stage mass protest in Lagos

In a determination to protect the right of the third arm of the government, over 100 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and thousands of their supporters have staged a massive protest in Lagos State on Saturday in continuation of their call for the removal of the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, over alleged disobedience of court orders.

The CSOs were joined by senior lawyers at the rally, staged through the streets of to Ikeja City Mall, and terminating at the Oregun Junction, in Ikeja area of Lagos State when leaders of the anti-corruption groups began what they described as a “Week Protest Against Politicisation of the EFCC, Disobedience of Court Long 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.

The anti-corruption crusaders 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 on 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 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.

Ologun 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.

The CSOs noted that 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.”

He 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.”

“One of the essence of leadership is obeying the tenets of democracy and the rule of law and key to that is court ruling. If Bawa has, in the last few months, continued to disobey court orders, he is unfit to sit at the helm of that body and we are calling for his sack,” he declared.

Executive Director, Centre for Public Accountability, Olufemi Lawson, called on the media to be partners in the struggle for a better society by refusing 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.

By Uzoamaka Ikezue (Staff Reporter)

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