The Kogi State High Court sitting in Lokoja has committed the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, to prison for disobeying a court order.
The court also directed the Inspector General of Police to effect Bawa’s arrest and remand him in Kuje prison for the next 14 days until he purges himself of the contempt.
Justice Rukayat Ayoola of the Kogi State High Court, in his judgement on Monday, granted the application for committal to prison of the EFCC chairman for disobeying a court ruling delivered on November 30, 2022, wherein the EFCC chairman was directed to produce the applicant in the case, Ali Bello.
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Counsel to the applicant, Sumaila Abbas, had dragged Bawa to court for arresting and detaining Bello illegally, with the court ruling in his favour, only for the EFCC to arraign him for alleged money laundering three days after the ruling.
The EFCC’s applications for setting aside and stay of execution of the ruling were refused for want of merit.
The Court had, in Form 49, Order IX, Rule 13, marked: “HCL/697M/2022” and titled “Notice to Show Cause Why Order of Committal Should not be Made,” asked the EFCC Chairman to appear before it on January 18, 2022 to explain why he should not be jailed for flouting the order given on December 12, 2022 in a case filed by Ali Bello against EFCC and Bawa, as the 1st and 2nd respondents, respectively.
The court ordered that the EFCC and Bawa be served the motion of notice together with Form 49 by substituted means.
The court had declared the arrest and detention of the applicant in the face of a subsisting court order made by a court of competent jurisdiction and without a warrant of arrest “or being informed of the offence for which he was arrested” as unlawful, unconstitutional, and in contravention of the personal liberty and dignity of human person guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
The court had also ordered the respondents to tender an apology to the applicant in a national newspaper and awarded N10 million compensation for him.
The Form 49, issued on December 15, 2022, and addressed to Bawa read, “Take notice that the Applicant will on the 18th day of January, 2023 at the hour of 9 o’ clock in the forenoon or so soon thereafter, apply to this Court for an order for your committal to prison for having disobeyed the order of this Court made on 12th day of December, 2022 that:
“That arrest and detention of the Applicant on the 29th November, 2022 by the 1st and 2nd Respondents in the face of a subsisting Court Order made by a Court of competent jurisdiction and without a warrant of arrest or being informed of the offence for which he was arrested is unlawful, unconstitutional and contravenes the Applicant’s right to personal liberty and dignity of human person guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Articles 5 and 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
“Perpetual injunction restraining the Respondents, their agents, servants, privies, or however called from further arrest, detention, harassment and intimidation of the Applicant .
“An order directing the Respondents to tender an apology to the Applicant in any of the National Daily having nationwide coverage for the illegal detention and harassment of the Applicant.
“An Award of the sum of Ten Million Naira as general damages jointly and severally against the Respondents for the unlawful detention and harassment of the Applicant.”
Recall that the EFCC on December 15, 2022 arraigned Bello for alleged misappropriation and money laundering by a Federal High Court in Abuja.