Abuja Court Convicts EFCC Chairman, Sends Him to Kuje Prison
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, has been convicted for failing to comply with an earlier court order.
In a ruling on October 28, 2022, Justice Chizoba Oji of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Maitama, Abuja, said the EFCC Chairman wilfully disobeyed the court directive and should be thrown into the Kuje Correction Centre.
“The Chairman [of the] Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is in contempt of the orders of this court made on November 21, 2018, directing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abuja, to return to the applicant his Range Rover (Super charge) and the sum of N40 million.
“Having continued wilfully in disobedience to the order of this court, he should be committed to prison at Kuje Correctional Centre for his disobedience and continued disobedience of the said order of court made on November 21, 2018, until he purges himself of the contempt.
“The Inspector General of Police shall ensure that the order of this honourable court is executed forthwith,” Justice Oji held.
According to The Nation, the EFCC had arraigned Mr Rufus Adeniyi Ojuawo on a two-count charge before Justice Muawiyah Baba Idris of the High Court of the FCT in Nyanya in 2016.
Mr Ojuawo, an Air Vice Marshal (AVM), was once a Director of Operations at the Nigerian Air Force. He was accused of corruptly receiving gratification to the tune of N40 million and receiving a Range Rover Sport (Supercharged) from one Hima Aboubakar of Societe D’Equipment Internationaux Nigeria Limited.
But in a ruling on November 21, 2018, Justice Idris discharged and acquitted Mr Ojuawo on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove its case, noting that for the charge to succeed, the prosecution must prove that the defendant corruptly accepted the gift; accepted or obtained the gift for himself or for any other person.
The judge added that the prosecution also ought to prove that the defendant accepted the gift in the course of or for discharging his official duty and that the gift was an inducement or reward.
He held that the burden was on the prosecution to prove all ingredients of the charge preferred against the defendant beyond reasonable doubt as required under Section 131(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011.
“In conclusion, I hold that the prosecution has failed to prove the two counts charge of corrupt gratification under S17 (1)(a) and (c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
“The defendant is discharged and acquitted on counts one and two of the charge.
“Consequently, the complainant (EFCC) is ordered to refund the defendant his N40 million wrongly paid into ONSA recovery account and to return to the defendant his Range Rover Sport (Supercharged) forthwith,” Justice Idris said.
But the EFCC failed to adhere to the court directive, and at the hearing last month, the lawyer to the EFCC, Mr Francis Jirbo, explained why Mr Bawa had failed to release the funds and the vehicle to the military officer, which Justice Orji rejected.