Senior lawyers have called for the release of suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa by the Directorate of State Services (DSS).

Some however chided him for trampling on suspects’ rights and the rule of law while he held sway as the EFCC helmsman.

CITY LAWYER recalls that foremost human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana SAN had demanded Bawa’s immediate release. He was quickly joined by longstanding EFCC Prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs SAN.

However, while former Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) Prosecutor, Mr. Jibrin Okutepa SAN stated that “there were allegations of disrespect for court orders and rule of law” against Bawa and suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, former Oyo State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice argued in a statement made available to CITY LAWYER that “Mr. Bawa is reaping and being given part of the dose of his adopted and usual style of anti-constitutional and extra-judicial measures, wickedness and gangsterism.”

In a two-page Press Release obtained by CITY LAWYER, Jacobs stated that “a close examination of the provisions of the (Administration of Criminal Justice) Act bordering on remand order would show that the continued detention of Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa can no longer be justified in law.”

He noted that the Act provides that a suspect could be in custody for a maximum of 56 days, adding that “Thereafter, the suspect ought to and must be released unconditionally except where a charge is preferred against him before a competent court of law.”

The senior lawyer warned that “The concern now is not necessarily about the person of Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa but the need to respect and observe the rule of law in a constitutional democracy which we practise in Nigeria.”

He called on the relevant authorities “to be properly guided and tow the part (sic) of justice in the instant case and other similar cases.”

Adebayo aligned with Jacobs, saying that is “what all men and women of good conscience and sincere believers in constitutional democracy should do.”

Chiding Bawa for some alleged infractions while in office, he wrote: “However, without gloating over the misfortune and present downfall of Mr. Bawa, I must confess that I am in another way happy that Mr. Bawa is reaping and being given part of the dose of his adopted and usual style of anti-constitutional and extra-judicial measures wickedness and gangsterism. Bawa was a law unto himself while in power and never believed in either the Rule of Law or Constitutionalism. He was a ruthless Emperor and a first-grade fascist.

“I am sure that when he is eventually released and secured his freedom soon and more importantly that we have a fitting and upright Attorney-General in the saddle now, Mr. Bawa will atone for his several sins, be remorseful and come to realise what constitutionalism and rule of law entail.”

Giving more details on his grouse with the embattled EFCC top shot, he said: “Mr. Bawa detained a client of mine who is a Parkinson disease patient without allowing him to have access to his medication for over 20 days when he was the Zonal Commander at Ibadan over a crime committed by a relation of my client.”

He however noted that “two wrongs will not make a right,” describing Bawa’s continued detention as “illegal and unconstitutional.”

On his part, Okutepa wrote: “The travails of AbdulRasheed Bawa suspended EFCC chairman and Godwin Emefiele suspended Governor of CBN posed serious lessons for us to learn.

“There is no substitute for the rule of law. There is a need for Nigerian public office holders to respect the rule of law. When the duo were in office, there were allegations of disrespect for court orders and rule of law. If our public institutions show respect for the rule of law and not treat our laws and constitution with disdain definitely what the duo are going through may not have happened.

“As lawyers we must also be ready to avoid aiding and abetting those who breached the rule of law with impunity. Using our legal knowledge in sabotage of the rule of law is the worst service any lawyer can do to the legal profession.”

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