Bawa: Range Rover already released to applicant — EFCC

Abdulrasheed Bawa

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has expressed shock over the ruling by Justice Chizoba Oji of an FCT High Court committing its chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, to prison for contempt.

The anti-graft agency said in a statement on Tuesday evening that Bawa is not known to encourage impunity, adding that the court ruling creates a wrong impression of him.

The court had ordered the commission in November 2018 to return to a defendant, a former director of operations of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), AVM Rufus Adeniyi Ojuawo, his Range Rover Jeep and N40 million seized from him.

Ojuawo was arraigned in 2016 by the EFCC before Justice Muawiyah Baba Idris of the FCT High Court, on a two-count charge.

He was accused of receiving N40 million and a Range Rover Sport (Supercharged) from one Hima Aboubakar of Societe D’Equipment Internationaux Nigeria Limited.

Reacting to the court ruling, the EFCC said, “The commission received with shock, report of the ruling by Justice Oji committing the chairman for contempt over his failure to comply with a Nov. 21, 2018 order of the court.

“The court directed the commission to return the seized assets comprising a Range Rover (Super charge) and the sum of N40, 000,000.00 to the applicant.

“This ruling is surprising as it creates a wrong impression of the person of the commission’s chairman as encouraging impunity.

“As far as the relationship between the EFCC and the judiciary is concerned, the chairman has been an apostle of the rule of law, due process and a promoter of 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 will not tolerate impunity or disregard any lawful orders of court.”

The statement explained that Bawa was not appointed when the order was given on November 21, 2018, “that is three years before he became chairman of the commission.”

“Despite that, the said Range Rover in question has been released to the applicant on June 27, 2022 and the chairman had approved the process for 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 added.