THE Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, was yesterday, convicted by an Abuja High Court for failing to comply with a court order mandating him to return a N40 million Range Rover belonging to Rufus Ojuawo, a naval officer.
Chizoba Oji, the presiding Justice, made the order against which Bawa was convicted on November 21, 2018.
While delivering the contempt of court order on Tuesday, the court specifically directed the Kuje Correctional Centre, Abuja, to take custody of Bawa pending the time he complies with court order.
To give effect to the order, the court mandated Usman Baba, the Inspector-General of Police, to ensure that the order is executed with immediate effect.
However, in a statement last night, the anti-graft agency said it received the judgement with shock.
The statement, signed by its spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, read, “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 Bawa became the 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 an incumbent chairman of the EFCC was neither served form 48 nor form 49.
“Despite this fact, the Executive Chairman, upon being aware of the said order of November 21, 2018, had released the Range Rover in question to the Applicant on June 27, 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.”