EFCC-Chairman Abdulrasheed Bawa

Contempt of Court: EFCC Chairman Committed to Prison

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, has been sentenced to prison for disobeying a court order. The ruling was handed down by Justice R.O. Ayoola of the Kogi State High Court on Monday. The court also ordered the Inspector-General of Police to arrest Bawa and detain him in Kuje Prison for the next 14 days.

The ruling was made due to Bawa’s failure to adhere to a court ruling delivered on November 30, 2022, which directed him to produce Ali Bello in the case. Bello had taken Bawa to court for illegally arresting and detaining him, with the court ruling in his favour. However, three days after the ruling, the EFCC arraigned Bello for alleged money laundering.

The court rejected the EFCC’s applications for setting aside and staying the execution of the ruling, stating that they lacked merit. The court also issued a notice to show cause 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.” The notice asked Bawa to appear before the court on January 18, 2023, to explain why he should not be jailed for flouting the court order given on December 12, 2022.

The court declared the arrest and detention of Bello as unlawful, unconstitutional, and in violation 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 also ordered the EFCC and Bawa to tender an apology to Bello in a national newspaper and awarded him N10 million in compensation for the illegal detention and harassment he endured.

The notice, issued on December 15, 2022, 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:

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“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.”

This ruling was the result of an application by Counsel to Ali Bello, S.A. Abass. The case highlights the importance of adhering to court orders and the consequences that may result from disobedience. Further updates on this story are expected in the coming days.

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