The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has filed a motion at the Court of Appeal to stay the execution of a Kogi High Court judgment ordering the imprisonment of its chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, for disobeying a court order.
Last Monday, Justice R.O. Ayoola of the Kogi State High Court directed the Inspector General of Police to arrest the EFCC Chairman and remand him in Kuje prison in Abuja for 14 days until he absolves himself of the contempt.
The order was issued by the judge while granting an application for the EFCC chairman’s committal to prison for disobeying a court ruling issued on November 30, 2022, in which he was directed to produce an applicant in a case, one Ali Bello, in court.
Bello had dragged Bawa to court for arresting and detaining him illegally. He noted that even after the court ruled in his favour, the EFCC refused to release him, but instead, went ahead to arraign him on charges of money laundering three days after the ruling.
The Court had also refused EFCC’s applications to set aside the stay of execution of the ruling for want of merit.
But in a motion filed before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, EFCC asked for interlocutory injunction to stop the arrest of Bawa pending the final hearing and determination of the appeal.
In asking the appellate court to dismiss the order to arrest Bawa, EFCC said the Kogi State High court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the matter as the alleged infringement of the respondent’s fundamental human rights occurred in Abuja, and no element of it took place in Lokoja.
Therefore, the trial court lacked jurisdiction to proceed to hear the suit, a fact which the EFCC said was dully raised before the Lokoja court.
The anti-graft agency further pointed out that the Appellant had applied to the trial court for compilation and transmission of the record of appeal, but as at the time of filing the motion, the file of the case was yet to be released to enable transmission of the record to the registry of the Appellate Court
The deponent said rather than allow the record of the appeal to be transmitted, the trial court proceed to cite the Appellant on 6th February for contempt
The deponent further averred that that, “If the execution/enforcement of the judgment of the 12th of December 2023 and the pronouncement of the trial Court of 6th of February 2023 is not stayed, it will jeopardize the Appellants/Applicants’ constitutional right of appeal and exercise of his statutory functions.”
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