The newly appointed Chairman designate, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, 40-year-old Abdulrasheed Bawa, appeared before the National Assembly on Wednesday, saying it was the EFCC secretary, three directors and other officials who flew in to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to sell off some 244 trucks forfeited to the Nigerian government and not him, as being alleged.
Bawa, during the Senate screening which was bereft of critical questions and largely ceremonial, stated that he never sold off any of the trucks in question despite a report forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari indicting him of complicity.
The chairman designate, who headed the anti-graft agency’s Port Harcourt zonal office at the time, had been accused of abuse of office and criminal diversion of Nigerian government properties, in the report which Buhari never read nor acted upon.
Before the Senate on Wednesday, Bawa said, “Anyone familiar with the processes and workings of the EFCC know that even the executive chairman of the EFCC does not have the powers to dispose (off) a single asset. That responsibility lies with the office of the secretary of the commission. I am starting from that end to confirm to Nigerians that I as zonal head of the commission never for once sold a single asset in Port Harcourt. I never did.
“The then secretary of the commission together with three directors and other staff of the commission flew in to Port Harcourt and disposed the trucks and other assets which were forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
SaharaReporters had on February 18 exclusively obtained the 13-page report that indicted Bawa and that was forwarded to President Buhari for further action but which was dumped and forgotten.
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 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 29th July, 2019 to Your Excellency. The letter sought for Your Excellency’s approval for the auctioning of 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 vide letter number PRES/72/EFCC/21 dated 5th August, 2019.
“Following Your Excellency’s approval, the Commission commenced the auctioning processes in order 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 the selection of the Auctioneers, the 244 Trucks and Vehicles were advertised in the national dailies for interested members of the public. The Commission also engaged the services of 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 21st December, 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 27th May, 2019 requesting 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 intention can be imputed.”