Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) head Abdulrasheed Bawa has been put to prison for defying a court order.
The court further ordered Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Baba Usman Alkali to arrest Bawa and imprison him in Kuje prison for 14 days, or until he purges himself of contempt.
Monday’s verdict by Justice R.O. Ayoola of the Kogi State High Court granted the EFCC chairman’s appeal for committal to prison for breaching a court order issued on November 30, 2022, directing him to produce the applicant in the case, Ali Bello.
Ali Bello had taken Bawa to court for unjustly arresting and detaining him, and the court ruled in his favor. However, three days later, the EFCC charged him with money laundering.
The EFCC’s requests for the ruling’s annulment and stay of execution were denied for lack of substance.
In Form 49, Order IX, Rule 13, labeled “HCL/697M/2022” and titled “Notice to Show Cause Why Order of Committal Should Not Be Made,” the Court had requested that the EFCC Chairman appear before it on January 18, 2022 to explain why he should not be jailed for disobeying an order issued on December 12, 2022 in a case filed by Ali Bello against EFCC and Bawa, as the 1st and 2nd respondents, respectively.
The court directed that the motion of notice and Form 49 be served to EFCC and Bawa by alternative methods.
The court declared the applicant’s arrest and detention in the face of a valid court order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction and without a warrant of arrest “or being informed of the offence for which he was arrested” to be unlawful, unconstitutional, and in violation of the personal liberty and dignity of the human person guaranteed by Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
In addition, the court ordered the respondents to apologize to the applicant in a national publication and gave him N10 million in compensation.
The Form 49, issued on December 15, 2022, and addressed to Bawa stated, “Take notice that the Applicant will apply to this Court on January 18, 2023 at 9:00 a.m. or so soon thereafter for an order for your committal to prison for having disobeyed the order of this Court issued on December 12, 2022 that:
“That the arrest and detention of the Applicant on November 29, 2022 by the First and Second Respondents in the face of a subsisting Court Order issued 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 violates 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.”
“Perpetual order prohibiting the Respondents, their agents, servants, or privies from further arrest, detention, harassment, or intimidation of the Applicant.
“An order mandating that the Respondents apologize to the Applicant in a national newspaper for the wrongful arrest and harassment of the Applicant.”
“Award the Respondents ten million Nigerian naira in general damages jointly and severally for the unlawful detention and harassment of the Applicant.”
This followed a request by Ali Bello’s attorney, S. A. Abass.