A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting at Maitama has vacated the contempt proceeding that led to the conviction and committal of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, in prison.
The court, in a ruling delivered yesterday by Justice Chizoba Orji, set aside the order, following an application brought by the EFCC boss.
Bawa filed the application dated November 11, pursuant to Section 6(6) (a) and Section 36(1) of the 199, Constitution, as amended, as well as Section 91 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act, Cap S6 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004.
In its ruling, the court, said it was satisfied that the EFCC Chairman did not spurn its orders as alleged.
It held that affidavit evidence before it, proved that the EFCC Chairman had complied with its directive that a Range Rover Sport (Super Charge) vehicle valued at N40million, which the anti-graft agency seized from a former Director of Operations at the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, Air Vice Marshal, AVM, Rufus Adeniyi Ojuawo, be returned to him.
Justice Orji held that by several internal memoranda that was made available to the court, the Applicant (Bawa), had also initiated the Commission’s internal mechanism to ensure the payment of the sum of N40, 000,000 that was also seized from Ojuawo.
Consequently, it voided the contempt case against the EFCC boss.
It will be recalled that Justice Orji had in a ruling she delivered since November 21, 2018, ordered the Commission to return the exotic vehicle to AVM Ojuawo, who was facing trial.
The former NAF Director of Operations was in 2016, docked before trial Justice Muawiyah Baba Idris of the High Court of the FCT at Nyanya for allegedly receiving N40m and a Range Rover Sport, from one Hima Aboubakar of Societe D’Equipment Internationaux Nigeria Limited.
He was arraigned on a two-count criminal charge.
Following a separate proceeding the defendant initiated against the Commission, the high court, in 2018, ordered that the seized vehicle should be returned to him.
However, four years after the order was made, counsel to the defendant, Mr. R.N. Ojabo, drew attention of the court to the fact that EFCC had yet to comply with it.
Irked by the development, Justice Orji, ordered the arrest and remand of the EFCC Chairman over his wilful disobedience to an extant order of the court.
“The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is in contempt of the orders of this honourable court made on November 21st 2018 directing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abuja to return to the applicant his Range Rover (Super charge) and the sum of N40, 000,000.00 (Forty Million Naira).
“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”, Justice Orji held, a ruling she vacated yesterday.