ABUJA – President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria has suspended the country’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman, AbdulRasheed Bawa, pending an investigation into allegations of abuse of office.
This marks the second dismissal of a top official by Tinubu, who took office two weeks ago with a promise of economic reforms.
In a statement released late Wednesday, the government announced Bawa’s suspension and stated, “Mr. Bawa has been directed to immediately hand over the affairs of his office to the Director of Operations in the Commission, who will oversee the affairs of the Office of the Chairman of the Commission pending the conclusion of the investigation.”
The decision to suspend Bawa follows “weighty allegations of abuse of office levelled against him,” according to the government statement.
Shortly after the suspension, the Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria’s domestic security and intelligence agency, confirmed that it had questioned Bawa.
The DSS stated, “Bawa arrived a few hours ago. The invitation relates to some investigative activities concerning him.”
Bawa’s suspension comes in the wake of the removal and arrest of Nigeria’s central bank chief, Godwin Emefiele, who was detained by the domestic security services last week as part of an ongoing probe into his role.
President Tinubu’s predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, had made the fight against corruption a major focus of his campaigns during the 2015 and 2019 elections.
However, Nigeria still ranks low on Transparency International’s corruption perception index.
The EFCC is responsible for investigating money laundering, graft, and other financial crimes, including internet scams.
Since assuming office at the end of last month after a fiercely contested February presidential election, Tinubu has pledged to implement reforms aimed at revitalizing Nigeria’s economy, the largest in Africa and one of the continent’s top oil producers.
The statement from the presidency did not provide further details about the specific allegations against the EFCC chairman.
Similarly, limited information has been disclosed regarding the charges against the central bank chief, Emefiele.
Critics had previously regarded Emefiele as the architect of Buhari’s stringent currency controls and complex foreign exchange system.
Tinubu has already courted controversy since taking office on May 29th by calling for an end to longstanding government subsidies that artificially kept petrol prices low.
Following his announcement that subsidies were “gone,” fuel prices in Nigeria nearly tripled.
Most analysts agree that ending subsidies is necessary for the government to save billions of dollars in expenses.
Nigeria’s new leader faces a myriad of challenges, including a security crisis with the armed forces battling jihadists, heavily armed criminal gangs, and separatist militants in various regions of the country.