A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Maitama has sent the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Abdulrasheed Bawa to jail for contempt of court.
Infoexpert24 understands that Bawa was convicted of contempt of court in relation to his agency’s failure to comply with an earlier order of the court.
Justice Chizoba Oji, in a ruling, held that “the Chairman Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is in contempt of the orders of this honorable court made on November 21st, 2018 directing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abuja to return to the applicant his Range Rover (Supercharge) and the sum of N40, 000,000.00 (Forty Million Naira).”
The judge continued: “Having continued wilfully 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 honorable court is executed forthwith.”
Justice Orji rejected the arguments put forward by the lawyer to the EFCC, Francis Jirbo, to justify his client’s action.
The ruling delivered on October 28 in Abuja was on a motion on notice marked: FCT/HC/M/52/2021 filed by Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Rufus Adeniyi Ojuawo, a one-time Director of Operations at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
Ojuawo had, in the motion 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.
The EFCC had arraigned Ojuawo on a two-count charge before Justice Muawiyah Baba Idris of the High Court of the FCT in Nyanya in 2016.
He was accused of corruptly receiving gratification to the tune of N40million and a Range Rover Sport (Supercharged) valued at N29250million from one Hima Aboubakar of Societe D’Equipment Internationaux Nigeria Limited.
But, in a judgment on November 21, 2018, Justice Idris discharged and acquitted Ojuawo on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove its case.
Idris held that for the charge to succeed, the prosecution must prove that the defendant corruptly accepted the gift; that he accepted or obtained the gift for himself or for any other person.
The judge added that the prosecution also ought to prove that the defendant accepted the gift in the course of, or for discharging his official duty, and that the gift was an inducement or reward.
He held that the burden was on the prosecution to prove all ingredients of the charge preferred against the defendant beyond reasonable doubt as required under Section 131(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011.
Justice Idris said: “In conclusion, I hold that the prosecution has failed to prove the two counts charge of corrupt gratification under S17 (1)(a) and (c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
“The defendant is discharged and acquitted on counts one and two of the charge.
“Consequently, the complainant (EFCC) is ordered to refund the defendant his N40,000,000 wrongly paid into ONSA recovery account and to return to the defendant his Range Rover Sport (Supercharged) forthwith.”
EFCC Chairman Speaks On Court Judgment Sending Him To Prison
EFCC boss Abdulrashid Bawa, has reacted to the judgement which sent him to prison.
Reacting to the judgement in a chat with Daily Trust correspondent and some other journalists, Bawa said an appeal had been filed.
The anti-graft czar, who appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Anti-Corruption to defend his agency’s budget, on Tuesday, said the law would take its natural course.
“Well, we have appealed against it, so we will allow the natural course of law to take its effect.”
He also said the EFCC requested more funding for its Academy and the agency’s operations which he said requires money.
He said, “We are building a brand new EFCC Academy and we need funding for that. Last year N3 billion was allocated and this year nothing was allocated for it, and that is why we are pleading to members that we need to have this new EFCC Academy because of course we have to learn, as fighters of crime we have to be ahead of these criminals and the only way you can do that is by training and re-training and re-training and re-training again. It can never end.
He expressed confidence that, the 9th National Assembly which he described as purposeful would heed the request.
While answering question on the agency’s operations and recoveries made so far, he said that, they have recorded a lot of recoveries and were working in line with the laws guiding forfeiture, disposal and remittances of proceeds of crimes.