OFFICE TO DETENTION: How EFCC Chairmen Went from Hunters to the Hunted - The Top Society

OFFICE TO DETENTION: How EFCC Chairmen Went from Hunters to the Hunted

By: Ololade Olu-Ojegbeje


When a new President assumes office in Nigeria, appointed officials who have not been able to get the favour of the new President will probably not feel at ease. The reason is not far fetched— Nigerian Presidents have in the past unceremoniously, removed sitting government officials from their positions.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is also in this quagmire. On June 14, 2023, President Bola Tinubu ordered the indefinite suspension of the chairperson of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, over allegations of abuse of office. Hours after his suspension, the State Security Service (SSS), Nigeria’s intelligence service, self called the Department of State Service (DSS), announced that Bawa had showed up at the intelligence service’s office for investigation.

Abdulrasheed Bawa, suspended EFCC Chairman

The Public Relations Officer of the SSS, Peter Afunanya had said Bawa’s invitation “…relates to some investigative activities concerning him.” However, since June 15, the EFCC chair has remained in the detention of the SSS without being charged to court.

The not-so-surprising turn of events that saw Bawa go from a hunter to the hunted shows the unceremonial exit of past chairpersons of the anti-corruption agency. The Head of Transparency International, Nigeria, Auwal Rafsanjan, echoes this thought.

“The suspension did not come to us by surprise, this is because of the way and manner the previous regimes or governments have always removed the EFCC leaders when they come into power,” Auwal had said in an interview.

Bawa is not the first and unfortunately, may not be the last victim of this power play. Since former President Olusegun Obasanjo established the EFCC in 2002, the agency has seen the unceremonial removal of its four substantative chairpersons from office.


In July 2020, former President Mohammadu Buhari suspended Ibrahim Magu as the acting chairman of the EFCC, over allegations of gross misconduct. Subsequently, he was arrested and detained.

Buhari had appointed Magu in 2015. However, the Senate did not confirm him as Chairman of the Agency owing to reports of security concerns.

Don’t miss out on: APC Chairman Abdullahi Adamu resignation and its controversy

But before Magu, there was Ibrahim Lamorde. Lamorde was appointed Acting Chairman of the Agency in 2011, confirmed as Chairman in 2012 and was sacked by Buhari in 2015.

In 2011, Farida Waziri was also sacked in similar fashion. Waziri was sworn in in June 2008 but was sacked by former President Goodluck Jonathan in November 2011.

The story is not different for Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer executive chairman of the agency. Ribidu was appointed in 2003 but was also removed from office in 2007, after he tried to prosecute former governor of Delta State, James Ibori for corrupt practices.


Somehow, like Bawa, none of the sacked chairpersons has been jailed for corrupt practices related to their removal from office. This then shows a clear case of witch-hunt where aggrieved persons try to get revenge to weaken the anti-corruption agency through the power of the presidency.

Since his arrest in June, Bawa remains unlawfully detained in the custody of the DSS. On October 9, the Federal High Court in Lagos will hear a suit ordering for the immediate release of Bawa from DSS’s custody.

Similarly, in October 2022, Magu had described his removal from office as corruption fighting back.

“I was a victim of corruption fighting back but I am happy recent events are revealing the truth to Nigerians,” Magu was quoted.


It has not been very difficult for the President to remove an EFCC chairman. The EFCC Act allows the President to remove the EFCC chairman and any member of the commission. The Act provides that the President can “…remove officials of the commission indicted for misconduct”.

Although the Senate has passed the second reading of a bill to limit the President’s powers of removing an EFCC chairman, fingers are crossed on where the hunter-hunted game ends.

Share this Article
Leave a comment