Court commits EFCC chairman to prison over contempt

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Justice Chizoba Oji of the FCT High Court has ordered the committal of the chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, to prison over contempt.

The judge also directed the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to ensure the committal order was executed.

Mr Oji gave the order dated October 28, a certified true copy (CTC) of which was made available to reporters in Abuja.

Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Rufus Adeniyi Ojuawo had brought a motion against the federal government, marked FCT/HC/M/52/2021, in the suit with the number FCT/HC/CR/184/2016.

Mr Ojuawo, through his counsel, R.N. Ojabo, sought an order to commit the chairman of EFCC to prison for the agency’s disobedience and continued disobedience of the order of the court made on November 21, 2018.

The court held that having considered the motion on notice and the affidavit in support, as well as the counter affidavit filed by the respondent and the submissions of EFCC counsel Francis Jirbo;

“It is hereby ordered as follows that the chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is in contempt of the orders of this honourable court made on November 21, 2018, directing the EFCC to return to the applicant his Range Rover (Super Charge) SUV and the sum of N40,000,000.00 (Forty Million Naira).

“That having continued to wilfully in disobedience to the order of this court, that he be committed to prison at Kuje Correctional Centre for his disobedience, and continued disobedience if the said order of court made on November 21, 2018, until he purges himself of the contempt.

“That the Inspector-General of Police shall ensure that the order of this honourable court is executed forthwith.”

Mr Ojuawo, a former Chief of Expo, Nigeria Air Force (NAF), was, on November 21, 2018, discharged and acquitted by Justice Muawiyah Baba Idris, sitting at Nyanya, Abuja.

He was arraigned on a two-count charge bordering on gratification in the suit marked FCT/HC/CV/184/2016, brought against him by the EFCC.

The one-time NAF director of operations was accused of corruptly receiving gratification to the tune of N40 million and a Range Rover Sport (Supercharged) from one Hima Aboubakar of Societe D’Equipment Internationaux Nigeria Limited. He pleaded not guilty.

According to the anti-graft agency, the offence was contrary to section 17(a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 17(c) of the same act.

Justice Idris held that EFCC failed to call Ms Aboubakar, who he described as a vital and material witness to its case, saying that this was fatal.

He further held that the prosecution did not file any charge against Ms Aboubakar, who allegedly gave the N40 million gratification.

He, therefore, held that for its failure to call Ms Aboubakar, the prosecution failed to prove the two-count charge against Mr Ojuawo.

While discharging and acquitting the defendant, the judge ordered the N40 million and the Range Rover vehicle to be paid and returned to him immediately.

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