Appeal Court sets aside contempt proceedings against EFCC Chairman

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The Court of Appeal, Abuja, has set aside contempt proceedings initiated by the former Governor of Kogi, Yahaya Bello, against the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Justice Joseph Oyewole set aside the proceedings in a unanimous judgment on Thursday while overruling the respondent’s preliminary objection, citing technicalities.

The Appeal Court said the trial judge failed to extend the orders of Feb. 9 in its final Judgment of April 17.

He said the second issue raised by the respondent on the interim order had become an academic exercise.

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The court awarded N1 million cost against the respondent.

The appellate court had granted an ex-parte motion for stay of contempt proceedings filed against the EFCC’s Chairman, Ola Olukoyede, by ex- Governor Bello.

The Court of Appeal, presided over by Justice Oyewole, granted the EFCC’s application to serve the processes in the appeal by substituted means on the former governor.

The court consequently adjourned the hearing of the motion on notice to May 20.

It would be recalled that the EFCC boss was summoned to appear before the Kogi State High Court in May to show cause why he should not be committed to prison for disobeying its orders.

But he had appealed the ruling of the trial court and sought a stay of the proceedings of the court.

The Kogi High Court based its ruling on the premise that the EFCC chair carried out “some acts upon which they (the EFCC) have been restrained” by the court on Feb. 9, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive originating motion.

It would be recalled that Justice I. A. Jamil, in a ruling on Suit No: HCL/68M/2024 and Motion No: HCL/190M/2024, ordered that “the said act was carried out by the respondent (EFCC) in violation of the order, which was valid and subsisting when they carried out the act.

The judge held that the EFCC’s act amounted to contempt.

EFCC operatives had laid siege on the residence of the former governor, as early as 8am on April 17, with a bid to arrest him despite a court order restraining them from taking such action, pending the determination of the originating motion.

Justice Jamil’s order was based on a motion ex-parte filed by Bello, through his lawyer, M.S. Yusuf, where he prayed the court for an order to issue and serve the respondent (EFCC chairman) with Form 49 Notice to show cause why order of committal should not be made on him.

The lead judgment at the Appeal Court on Thursday, was delivered by Justice Oyewole, while Justices A.M. Talba and D. Z. Senchi were in agreement.(NAN)

By Taiye Agbaje/Edith Nwapi

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