An Abuja High Court sitting in Maitama has convicted the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, for contempt of court and sentenced him to prison. The EFCC chairman was convicted on Tuesday in relation to the anti-graft agency’s failure to comply with an earlier order of the court.
The court had ordered the EFCC to return to back a whooping sum of N40 million and a Range Rover Sport, to a defendant, a former Director of Operations at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Air Vice Marshal Rufus Adeniyi Ojuawo. The EFCC had arraigned Adeniyi Ojuawo on a two-count charge before Justice Muawiyah Baba Idris of the Federal High Court of Abuja in 2016.
He was accused of receiving N40 million and a Range Rover Sport (Supercharged) from one Hima Abubakar of Societe D’Equipment International Nigeria Limited. Ojuawo, in a suit filed by his lawyer, R.N. Ojabo, complained that the EFCC declined to comply with the order for the release of his seized property made by the court in a judgment delivered on November 21, 2018.
However, the presiding judge, Justice Chizoba Orji, in a ruling on Tuesday held that “the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is in contempt of court orders made on November 21st 2018 directing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja to return to the applicant his Range Rover Sport (Supercharge) and the sum of N40 million naira.
“Having continued vehemently in disobedience to the order of this court, he should be committed to prison at Kuje Correctional Centre for his disobedience, and continued disobedience of the said order of court made on November 21st, 2018, until he purges himself of the contempt. “The Inspector General of Police shall ensure that the order of this honourable court is executed forthwith,” Justice Orji stated.
However, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, says he has appealed the verdict ordering his imprisonment. Mr Bawa said this on Tuesday while answering questions from journalists in Abuja. According to his words; “We have appealed against it already so we will allow the natural course of the law to take its effect,” he said.
It had been reported previously, how an Abuja high court ordered the remand of the EFCC boss over the failure of the anti-graft agency to comply with an earlier order of the court. Justice Chizoba Oji, the presiding judge, ordered the inspector-general of police (IGP) to ensure that Mr. Bawa is committed to prison for disobedience.
The judge gave the order in the motion on notice filed by Adeniyi Ojuawo, air vice marshal (now retired), against the federal government. The judge held that Mr. Bawa is in contempt of the order of the court after the commission failed to return a Range Rover and the sum of N40 million to Ojuawo.
According to the judgments; “Having continued willfully in disobedience to the order of this court, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa should be committed to prison at Kuje Correctional Centre for his disobedience, and continued disobedience of the said order of court made on November 21st, 2018, until he purges himself of the contempt.”
The EFCC had arraigned Ojuawo on a two-count charge before Muawiyah Baba Idris, the presiding judge of the Abuja High Court in 2016. He was charged with receiving gratification from Hima Abubakar of Societe D’Equipment Internationaal Nigeria Limited a whooping sum of N40 million and a Range Rover Sport (supercharged) valued at around N30 million.
However, the judge discharged and acquitted Ojuawo on November 21, 2018, on the grounds that the prosecution had not made its case. The judge then ordered the EFCC to return the money and the car to him which the EFCC refused to comply and the offence is a contempt of court in which the chairman of the EFCC will bear the consequences.