By Tonia Okereke
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has said it will challenge the ruling by Justice Chizoba Oji of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Maitama, Abuja committing its Executive Chairman Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa 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.
Spokesman of the anti-graft agency, Wilson Uwujaren, announced this in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday.
According to him, the ruling came as a surprise as the EFCC had already returned the vehicle to the applicant and had commenced the process of also refunding the said sum.
The statement read in part: “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”.
“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”, the statement further read.