Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has taken the step of suspending the country’s anti-corruption chief as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of misconduct in office, according to the government.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman, AbdulRasheed Bawa, was suspended and subsequently questioned by the domestic security services.
Tinubu, who assumed office two weeks ago with a pledge to implement economic reforms, has now dismissed two high-ranking officials.
In a statement released late Wednesday, the government directed Mr. Bawa to immediately hand over his responsibilities to the Director of Operations in the Commission. This arrangement will continue until the investigation reaches its conclusion. The suspension follows serious accusations of abuse of office against Bawa.
Following the suspension, the Department of State Services (DSS), the domestic security and intelligence agency, confirmed that they had questioned Bawa. The agency stated that the invitation was related to ongoing investigative activities concerning him.
This recent development comes after the removal and subsequent arrest of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s chief, Godwin Emefiele, who was detained by the domestic security services last week as part of a separate investigation into his role.
Tinubu’s predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, had prioritized anti-corruption efforts during his presidential campaigns in 2015 and 2019. However, Nigeria continues to be ranked low on Transparency International’s corruption perception index.
The EFCC focuses on investigating money laundering, corruption, and other financial crimes, including internet scams.
Tinubu, who assumed power at the end of last month following a fiercely contested February presidential election, had promised reforms to bolster Africa’s largest economy and one of the continent’s major oil producers.
The government statement did not provide further details regarding the allegations against the EFCC chairman, and few official details have emerged regarding the charges against the central bank chief.
Emefiele had been criticized by some as the architect of Buhari’s stringent currency controls and complex foreign exchange system.
Since his inauguration on May 29, Tinubu has already sparked controversy by calling for an end to longstanding government subsidies that artificially keep petrol prices low. Fuel prices in Nigeria nearly tripled after Tinubu declared that the subsidies were abolished on the day he assumed office. Most analysts argue that ending the subsidies is necessary to save the government billions of dollars in expenses.
Nigeria’s new leader faces multiple challenges, including a security crisis with the armed forces engaged in conflicts against jihadists, heavily armed criminal gangs, and separatist militants in various parts of the country.
Sources: Agence France-Presse and SGP