Nigerian President Replaces Head of Anti-Corruption Agency

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari replaced the head of the nation’s anti-graft body, rebooting his government’s bid to rein in corruption.

The president appointed Abdulrasheed Bawa, 40, as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. Bawa replaces Ibrahim Magu, who served as acting head of the agency from 2015 until his removal last year when he faced a probe into alleged mismanagement.

Buhari came to power six years ago with a pledge to crack down on rampant graft in Africa’s biggest economy. Since then, Nigeria’s ranking in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index has slid to 149th from 136th, placing it among the bottom 20% of countries.

Bawa has served as an officer at the EFCC for the past 15 years. Buhari has requested that his appointment be approved by the Senate, which refused to make permanent the position of his predecessor because of accusations of wrongdoing contained in a report by the Department of State Services, Nigeria’s secret police.

Magu has previously denied all allegations of wrongdoing.

Last year, a presidential panel investigated alleged mismanagement in Magu’s handling of the EFCC’s sale of recovered assets. The findings, which were submitted to Buhari in November, are yet to be made public. President Buhari will decide whether further action should be taken against Magu after reviewing a new report on the panel’s findings that is being prepared by his chief of staff, Ibrahim Gambari, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said by text message.

Bawa, who is the first non-police officer appointed to lead the EFCC, became head of the agency’s office in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, in August. He has headed the EFCC’s investigation of Diezani Alison-Madueke, who the agency accuses of corruption when she was oil minister from 2010 to 2015. The EFCC has charged Alison-Madueke and says it’s trying to extradite her from the U.K. to stand trial. The former minister is also the subject of investigations by British and U.S. authorities.

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