The conviction of EFCC chairman, Bawa, for contempt: An anti-climax! –

It was reported yesterday that the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama, Abuja found Abdulrasheed Bawa, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, in contempt of court for EFCC’s refusal to comply with an earlier court order. The report quoted High Court Judge Justice Chizoba Oji as saying, “The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is in contempt of an order of this Court dated 21 November 2018 directing the Abuja Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to charge his Range Rover (supercharged) and N40,000,000.00 (forty million Naira) to the applicant. He continues to willfully disobey the order of this court and he shall be imprisoned for his disobedience and continued disobedience to the above order of the court dated 21.11.2018 At Kuje Correctional Center until he clears himself of contempt.”

As of press time, the chairman of the EFCC has not surrendered to Kuje Correctional Centre. Most disturbingly, the order to force EFCC to return the aforementioned items was made in 2018. Four years later, the EFCC is still defying the courts. We remember we used to have a so-called super-cop whose trade stocks grasped the law by arresting and detaining citizens indiscriminately. He was also accused of even making some citizens disappear and confiscating their property. The FBI had to save us from rogue cops. Are we now producing another “super cop”? Governments at all levels and their officials have a terrible penchant for disobeying court orders. For them, the court can only bark, not bite. it is true. The judiciary cannot enforce its own judgments and orders. It relies on the Nigerian Police Force, which is controlled by the executive branch of the government. Leading human rights activist Femi Falana (SAN) recently conducted a study of the number of judgments disobeyed by the federal government alone. They met more than 2,000 people. It now appears that it is the policy of Nigerian governments to disobey the judgments and orders of the courts. We all saw the drama that unfolded when the Abuja Court of Appeal allowed Nnamdi Kanu’s appeal and dropped the remaining criminal charges against him. From that moment on, nothing prevented his release. This means that if he had been in court the moment the charges were dismissed, he could have left the courtroom and gone straight home. The Federal Government of Nigeria refused to release him; and continued to detain him without any remand order for over a week.

If our democracy is to thrive, public officials and institutions must abide by the laws of the nation. We cannot afford a situation where the enforcers or legislators are actually lawbreakers, the real problem. This would be a recipe for disaster and may only lead to a path of ‘anarchy as the people’s trust in their government will be completely eroded. We don’t want another #EndSars but have we learned our lesson? Chances of appeals court in EBONYI State Governor and ORS V. HON emphasized respect for the rule of law. JUSTICEISUAMA (2003) FWLR [PT. 169] 1210 @ 1227-1228, the Court of Appeals, in emphasizing the need for public officials to obey the law, held that: “All citizens, especially those publicly sworn in to protect and uphold the Constitution, are necessary for good governance and respect for the rule of law. In a democratic society, this It was supposed to be a norm; it is apostasy for the government to disregard the provisions of the law and the rules necessary to regulate affairs”.

The EFCC chair should clear himself of contempt. Failure to do so may give the impression that EFCC is an illegal organisation.

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