An Abuja High Court sitting in Maitama yesterday convicted the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, for contempt.
He was convicted over the anti-graft agency’s failure to comply with an earlier order of the court.
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The court had ordered the EFCC to return to a defendant, a former Director of Operations at the Nigerian Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Rufus Adeniyi Ojuawo, his Range Rover, and N40m.
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 receiving N40m and a Range Rover Sport (Supercharged) from one Hima Aboubakar of Societe D’Equipment Internationaux 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, yesterday held that the chairman of the EFCC was in contempt of the orders of the court directing the commission to return to the applicant, his Range Rover and N40m.
“Having continued willfully 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 said.
Reacting to the judgement in a chat with reporters, the EFCC chairman said an appeal had been filed.
Bawa, who appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Anti-Corruption to defend his agency’s budget yesterday, said the law would take its natural course.
“Well, we’ve appealed against it, so we’ll allow the natural course of law to take its effect.”
Meanwhile, the spokesman of the Nigeria Police Force, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said the IGP was not aware of the order for the execution of the court ruling.
“Honestly, IG is not aware. We’re not aware of any court order”, Adejobi told Daily Trust on the phone.