By EDITH NWAPI
Justice Chizoba Oji of an FCT High Court has ordered the committal of the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, to prison over contempt.
The judge also directed the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, to ensure that the committal order is executed.
Oji gave the order dated Oct. 28, a certified true copy (CTC) of which was made available to newsmen in Abuja today, Nov. 8.
AVM Rufus Adeniyi Ojuawo had brought a motion against the Federal Government, marked FCT/HC/M/52/2021, in the suit with the number FCT/HC/CR/184/2016.
AVM Ojuawo through his counsel, R.N. Ojabo, sought for an order committing the Chairman or Acting Chairman (or howsoever called), of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abuja, to prison.
This, he said, is for his disobedience, and continued disobedience, of the order of the court made on Nov. 21, 2018.
The order directed EFCC to return to the applicant his Range Rover (Super Charge) SUV and the sum of N40,000,000.00 (Forty Million Naira).
“And for such further order(s) as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.”
The court held that having considered the motion on notice and the affidavit in support as well as counter affidavit filed by the respondent and the submissions of EFCC counsel, Francis Jirbo; “The EFCC chairman is in contempt of the order of the court made on Nov. 21, 2018 directing the release of the applicant’s Range Rover (Super Charge) SUV and the sum of N40 million.
“It is hereby ordered as follows: That the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is in contempt of the orders of this honourable court made on Nov. 21, 2018 directing the EFCC to return to the applicant his Range Rover (Super Charge) SUV and the sum of N40,000,000.00 (Forty Million Naira).
“That having continued to wilfully in disobedience to the order of this court, that he be committed to prison at Kuje Correctional Centre for his disobedience, and continued disobedience of the said order of court made on Nov. 21, 2018, until he purges himself of the contempt.
“That the Inspector-General of Police shall ensure that the order of this honourable court is executed forthwith.”
Ojuawo, a former Chief of Expo, Nigeria Air Force (NAF), was on Nov. 21, 2018 discharged and acquitted by Justice Muawiyah Baba Idris, sitting at Nyanya, Abuja.
He was arraigned on a two-count charge bordering on gratification in the suit marked, FCT/HC/CV/184/2016, brought against him by the EFCC.
The one-time NAF Director of Operations was accused of corruptly receiving gratification to the tune of N40 million and a Range Rover Sport (Super Charge) from one Hima Aboubakar of Societe D’Equipment Internationaux Nigeria Limited.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The offence, according to the anti-graft agency, was contrary to Section 17(a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 17(c) of the same Act.
Justice Idris held that EFCC failed to call Aboubakar, whom he described as a vital and material witness to its case, saying that this was fatal to its case.
“It is only by calling Aboubakar Hima as a witness that the mens rea (the purpose or reason of giving the alleged N40 million gratification) would be established,” he held.
He further held that the prosecution did not file any charge against Aboubakar, who allegedly gave the N40 million gratification.
He, therefore, held that for its failure to call Aboubakar, the prosecution failed to prove the two-count charge against Ojuawo.
While discharging and acquitting the defendant, the judge ordered both the N40 million and the Range Rover vehicle be paid and returned to him immediately.
“In conclusion, I hold that the prosecution has failed to prove the two counts charge of corrupt gratification under Section 17 (1)(a) and (c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
“The defendant is discharged and acquitted on counts 1 and 2 of the charge.
“Consequently, the complainant 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 ordered. (NAN)