The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed a motion before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, asking for a stay of execution of the judgment of a Kogi State High Court delivered on December 12, 2022 and the consequential order made on Feb. 6th 2023, in the suit between the commission and Ali Bello.
Justice Rukayat Ayoola of a Kogi State High Court sitting in Lokoja had on February 6 ordered the arrest and remand of EFCC chairman, AbdulRasheed Bawa for contempt of court.
The court gave the order on Bawa for disobeying an earlier court order made on 12 December 2022.
The court directed the Inspector General of Police to arrest Bawa and remand him in Kuje prison, Abuja, for the next 14 days.
In the December 12, 2022 ruling, the court held that the arrest and detention of Bello on 29 November 2022 by the EFCC and its chairman in the face of an earlier subsisting court order without a warrant of arrest or being informed of the offence for which he was arrested is unlawful and unconstitutional.
Ali Bello, a nephew to the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, who is allegedly involved in a N10 billion fraud, had dragged Bawa to court for arresting and detaining him illegally, despite a court ruling in his favour, only for the EFCC to arraign him for alleged money laundering three days after the ruling.
However, the EFCC, in a statement by its Head, Media & Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, said is seeking a stay of the execution of the judgment committing Bawa to prison as well as an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the appellants from attempting to enforce the judgment of the trial Court pending the final hearing and determination of the appeal.
In the supporting affidavit to the application, deposed to by Samuel Anele Ugwuegbulam, on behalf of the commission, he affirmed that the Appellants have “strong, good and arguable grounds of appeal”.
The EFCC among other things also submitted that the trial court in Kogi did not have jurisdiction to entertain the matter as the alleged infringement of the respondent’s (Ali Bello’s), fundamental human rights occurred in Abuja, and no element of it took place in Lokoja.
The anti-graft agency also submitted that, “If the execution 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 commission’s constitutional right of appeal and exercise of Bawa’s statutory functions.”