How Contempt of Court landed EFCC boss Bawa in trouble

EFCC boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa
EFCC boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa

Justice Chizoba Oji of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Maitama has ordered the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali-Baba to arrest the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa over failure to comply with order to return a Range Rover and N40 million to an applicant.

“The Inspector General of Police shall ensure that the order of this honourable court is executed forthwith,” the judge said while rejecting the arguments put forward by the lawyer to the EFCC, Francis Jirbo, to justify his client’s refusal to comply with the order.

The court gave the order in ruling delivered on October 28 on a motion on notice filed by Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Rufus Adeniyi Ojuawo, a former Director of Operations of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).

Ojuawo had in the motion complained that the EFCC refused to to comply with the order to release seized property as directed by the court in a judgment delivered on November 21, 2018.

EFCC had arrested and arraigned Ojuawo on a two-count charge before Justice Muawiyah Baba Idris of the High Court of the FCT in Nyanya in 2016 for allegedly receiving bribe of N40 million and a Range Rover Sport from one Hima Aboubakar of Societe D’Equipment Internationaux Nigeria Limited.

However, the ex-Air Force officer was discharged and acquitted as the court said EFCC failed to prove the allegations in 2018.

According to the Judge, the prosecution failed to prove that the defendant corruptly accepted the gift; that he accepted or obtained the gift for himself or for any other person.

He also said prosecution also failed to to prove that the defendant accepted the gift in the course of, or for discharging his official duty, and that the gift was an inducement or reward.

He held that the burden was on the prosecution to prove all ingredients of the charge preferred against the defendant beyond reasonable doubt as required under Section 131(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011.

“In conclusion, I hold that the prosecution has failed to prove the two counts charge of corrupt gratification under S17 (1)(a) and (c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

“The defendant is discharged and acquitted on counts one and two of the charge.

“Consequently, the complainant (EFCC) is ordered to refund the defendant his N40,000,000 wrongly paid into ONSA recovery account and to return to the defendant his Range Rover Sport (Supercharged) forthwith,” Justice Idris said.

But in her ruling on Tuesday, Justice Oji noted that the EFCC Chairman has continued to willfully disobey the order of the court and as such, “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.”