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Abdulrasheed Bawa

09.11.2022 Featured Court Order on Range Rover, N40m Was Given 3 Years Before Bawa’s Tenure, Says EFCC

Published 9th Nov, 2022

By Sodeeq Atanda

Following an Abuja High Court order committing Abdulrasheed Bawa, the chairman of the Economic and Financial crimes Commission, to prison for contempt of court on Tuesday, the agency has stated that it is exploring legal steps in order to nullify the said order in court.

The agency maintained that its chairman would never disregard lawful orders of court, saying the said court order was issued three years before Bawa’s ascension to the head of the agency.

In its reaction to the committal order on Tuesday, the agency stated that the proceedings that produced the judgement of November 2018 predated the chairmanship of Bawa and as such, he was not involved in the case at any stage.

READ ALSO: Court Sends EFCC Chairman Bawa to Prison Over N40m, Range Rover

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, received with shock, report of the ruling by Justice Chizoba Oji of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Maitama, Abuja committing the Executive Chairman for contempt over the failure to comply with a November 21st, 2018 order of the court directing the Commission to return seized assets comprising a Range Rover (Super charge) and the sum of N40, 000,000.00 (Forty Million Naira) to the applicant,” Wilson Uwujaren, the agency’s head of media and publicity.

“This ruling is surprising as it creates a wrong impression of the person of the Executive Chairman of the EFCC as encouraging impunity. As far as the relationship between the EFCC and the judiciary is concerned, the Executive Chairman, Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, has been an apostle of rule of law, due process, and close collaboration between the two institutions in justice administration. As an investigator, and the only Chief Executive of a law enforcement agency who regularly goes to court, the Executive Chairman will not tolerate impunity or disregard any lawful orders of court.

“Abdulrasheed Bawa, in his capacity as Executive Chairman of the EFCC since March 5, 2022, did not disregard any order of court. For the benefit of the public, the said order of the FCT High Court was given on November 21, 2018, three years before Abdulrasheed became EFCC Chairman. This fact is germane as the contempt process is quasi criminal in nature and must be served on the person involved. In this case, Bawa as incumbent chairman of the EFCC, was neither served form 48 nor form 49.

READ ALSO: ‘Report Me to EFCC’, Palm Oil Merchant Loveth Eriwone Tells Investors After Taking Their Millions

“Despite this fact, the Executive Chairman, upon being aware of the said order of November 21st, 2018 had released the Range Rover in question to the Applicant on the 27th of June, 2022 and had approved the process of the release of the remaining N40m.

“Taking into cognizance the procedural lapse in the contempt proceedings, the commission has initiated a process to set aside the entire contempt proceedings and committal of the Executive Chairman for contempt.

“Despite the discomfort of this ruling which is seemingly promoted by misinformation, the commission remains committed to working closely with the judiciary in furtherance of the fight against economic and financial crimes in Nigeria.”

Committing Bawa to prison on October 8, Justice Chizoba Oji had ruled that the agency’s failure to comply with its order of November 21, 2018 mandating the it to release N40 million and a Range Rover (Supercharged) to Rufus Ojuawo, Air Vice Marshal and a former Director of Operations at the Nigerian Air Force, constituted contempt.

In 2016, the agency had taken Ojuawo to the court on a two-count charge of corrupt enrichment while performing his official responsibilities.

In the said case, the agency claimed that Ojuawo received an undue gift that amounted to N40 million and a Range Rover Sport (Supercharged)from one Hima Aboubakar.

READ ALSO: EFCC Arrests Proprietors of ‘Yahoo’ Schools in Edo State

At the close of the prosecution, Justice Muawiyah Baba Idris, who presided over the case, held that the EFCC prosecution team failed to convince the court beyond reasonable doubt that Ojuawo was guilty of the offence as stipulated by Section 131(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011.

He consequently discharged and acquitted Ojuawo ordered a return of his seized property forthwith.

Published 9th Nov, 2022

By Sodeeq Atanda

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