Contempt: Coalition demands immediate arrest, imprisonment of EFCC chairman Bawa

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The Coalition for Change and Integrity (CCI) has called for the arrest and imprisonment of Abdulrasheed Bawa, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for disobeying court orders.

The group said the EFCC boss trampled on the rights of citizens and disrespected the courts that made orders to correct the injurious behaviour of the anti-graft agency.

Recall that the Kogi State High Court presided by Justice R.O Ayoola had 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.

The EFCC chairman disobeyed a court ruling delivered on November 30, 2022, wherein Bawa was directed to produce the applicant in the case, Ali Bello.

Ali Bello had dragged Bawa to court for arresting and detaining him illegally, following an application by his counsel, S. A. Abass.

“In these instances, Bawa trampled on the rights of citizens and disrespected the courts that made orders to correct the injurious behaviour of the anti-graft agency,” the Coalition said.

“There are so many other instances of contempt of court against Mr. Bawa, some of which the judges ignored on account of the notoriety that he has built for himself as someone who cannot be bothered to respect the Nigerian judiciary.

“It is therefore an established pattern for Mr. Bawa to flout court orders, which can only come from a mindset of having concluded that there would be no consequences for flouting the orders of the courts. This has manifested in the EFCC, under Bawa, arrogating to itself the powers of the executive, legislature, and judiciary, which is a danger to our democracy.

“We noted that in November 2022, the Inspector General of Police delayed carrying out the sentence of the court to allow room for it to be overturned. Our guess is that the IG did this in the notion of ‘esprit de corps’ in which he accorded Mr. Bawa a comradeship that he does not deserve. Treating Mr. Bawa’s behaviour as something that should be swept under the carpet on account of the brotherhood of law enforcement agencies would only damage the reputation that the IGP has been rebuilding for the Nigeria Police Force.

“Another chance has been presented to IGP Usman Alkali Baba to prove that he is a thoroughbred officer of the law, one that does not have the tradition of disobeying court orders. Failure to carry out the order of the court to arrest and take Mr. Bawa to Kuje custodial centre will in itself amount to contempt of court, which would haunt IGP Baba in his career and after he exits service.

“We expect that the IGP will in the coming hours fully carry out the court order so that Mr. Bawa will serve his 14 days sentence in Kuje as ordered. We call on the Inspector General of Police to immediately take the EFCC Chairman to prison as no lawful order of court should be disobeyed by constituted authority like the Police.

“This has become necessary in the face of consistent disobedience to court orders by the current EFCC chairman with the latest being this recent case where the court in Kogi state has ordered that he should be put in prison.

“It is our firm belief that the Nigeria we want will not be achieved through a violent revolution but by people like the IGP doing what the law prescribes for the benefit of society. Mr. Bawa should not be treated as being too highly placed to serve the sentence that has been imposed on him by a competent court of law. The people he successfully prosecutes served the sentences the courts handed to them so Mr. Bawa must stop placing himself above the law.

“Our expectation is that things would not come to a point where the courts would commit the IGP himself to prison for not carrying out lawful orders that he is being paid with taxpayers’ money to perform. If things ever come to the point where Mr. Baba is held in contempt for not arresting the EFCC chairman, he can rest assured that we shall mobilize to occupy the Police Force Headquarters from where citizens shall escort him to prison. He should act now.”

The Coalition, therefore, urged President Buhari to prevail on Mr. Bawa, as his appointee, to turn himself over to the police so that he can be properly taken to Kuje custodial centre.

“When Mr. President does this he would have left behind a legacy that will ensure that Nigerians are fairly treated irrespective of their station in life,” the statement added.

“Our final charge is to the EFCC chairman, he must hand himself over to the judiciary before things get to the point where the courts will recuse themselves from any case involving the EFCC, which will effectively sound the death knell for that agency since an inability to prosecute suspect would amount to a natural end to EFCC’s existence. We also do not want to be pushed to the point where citizens’ action is convened to protect the courts from the impunity that Mr. Bawa has come to represent.”