In a dramatic turn of events, the Kogi State High Court sitting in Lokoja has ordered the arrest and remand of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, for disobeying a court order.
Justice Rukayat Ayoola of the Kogi State High Court delivered the judgement on Monday, granting the application for committal to prison for the EFCC chairman.
The court has 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.
Contempt of Court Ruling
The judgement comes after the EFCC chairman was accused of disobeying a court ruling delivered on November 30, 2022, in which the EFCC was ordered to produce Ali Bello.
Counsel to the applicant, Sumaila Abbas, had dragged Bawa to court for arresting and detaining Bello illegally. The court had ruled in Bello’s favour, but the EFCC later arraigned him for alleged money laundering just 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.
In a Form 49, Order IX, Rule 13, marked: “HCL/697M/2022” and titled “Notice to Show Cause Why Order of Committal Should not be Made,” the court asked Bawa to appear before it on January 18, 2023 to explain why he should not be jailed for flouting the order given on December 12, 2022. The court ordered that the EFCC and Bawa be served the motion of notice together with Form 49 by substituted means.
Illegal Arrest and Detention
The court had declared the arrest and detention of Bello 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 Bello in a national newspaper and awarded N10 million compensation.
In a Form 49, issued on December 15, 2022, and addressed to Bawa, the court noted that the applicant would apply for an order for Bawa’s committal to prison for having disobeyed the court order.
The court highlighted that the arrest and detention of Bello was unlawful, unconstitutional, and contravened his right to personal liberty and dignity of human person.
The court also ordered a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from further arrest, detention, harassment, and intimidation of Bello and directed the respondents to tender an apology to him in a national daily newspaper with nationwide coverage.
Arraignment for Alleged Money Laundering
Just three days after the court ruling in favour of Bello, the EFCC arraigned him for alleged misappropriation and money laundering by a Federal High Court in Abuja.
The recent development has raised questions about the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Nigeria.
The EFCC has been at the forefront of the fight against corruption in Nigeria and the arrest and remand of its chairman will no doubt cause concern and shake confidence in the organisation.
The arrest and remand of the EFCC chairman has sent shockwaves through the country and has reignited the debate on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Nigeria.
The court’s decision to jail Bawa for contempt of court sends a strong message that no one is above the law. The case has attracted widespread attention and will be closely watched by the public and the international community.
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