The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says its chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, has returned the confiscated range rover of former Air Vice Marshal, Rufus Ojuawo, which led to the sentencing of the anti-graft chief on Tuesday.

In a statement, the anti-graft agency which described the development as shocking, said the approval for the payment of the N40 million seized from Mr Ojuawo is on course.

It reiterated that appeals against the ruling imprisoning the commission’s chairman has been filed.

Background

The court had ordered the commission to return to a defendant, a former director of operations of the Nigerian Air Force, Mr Ojuawo, his Range Rover SUV and N40 million seized from him.

The EFCC had in 2016 arraigned Mr Ojuawo before Justice Muawiyah Baba Idris of the FCT High Court on a two-count charge.

He was accused of receiving N40 million and a Range Rover Sport (Supercharged) from Hima Aboubakar of Societe D’Equipment Internationaux Nigeria Limited.

Vehicle returned, refund still being processed 

In its statement on Tuesday, the EFCC said its chairman did not disregard the orders of the court but has implemented them.

It said the confiscated automobile has been returned to the owner while the process of releasing the seized funds was still on course.

“Abdulrasheed Bawa, in his capacity as Executive Chairman of the EFCC since March 5, 2022, did not disregard any order of court,” the statement partly reads. “For the benefit of the public, the said order of the FCT High Court was given on November 21, 2018, three years before Abdulrasheed became EFCC Chairman. This fact is germane as the contempt process is quasi criminal in nature and must be served on the person involved. In this case, Bawa as incumbent chairman of the EFCC, was neither served form 48 nor form 49.

“Despite this fact, the Executive Chairman, upon being aware of the said order of November 21st 2018 had released the Range Rover in question to the Applicant on the 27th of June, 2022 and had approved the process of the release of the remaining N40m.

“Taking into cognizance the procedural lapse in the contempt proceedings the commission has initiated a process to set aside the entire contempt proceedings and committal of the Executive Chairman for contempt.

“Despite the discomfort of this ruling which is seemingly promoted by misinformation, the commission remains committed to working closely with the judiciary in furtherance of the fight against economic and financial crimes in Nigeria.”