The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Thursday, set aside the contempt proceedings instituted by the immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, against the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Olanipekun Olukoyede.

In a unanimous judgment, the three-man panel of justices; Justice A.M. Talba, Justice D. Z. Senchi, and Justice Joseph Oyewole, set aside the proceedings.

justice Oyewole, while delivering the lead judgment, overruled the respondent’s preliminary objection, citing technicalities.

The appellate court said the high court judge failed to extend the orders of February 9, 2024 in its final judgment of April 17, 2024, adding that the second issue raised by the respondent on the interim order, had become an academic exercise.

The court awarded N1m cost against the respondent.

Recall that the appellate court had granted an ex-parte motion for a stay of contempt proceedings filed against the EFCC boss by Bello.

The Court of Appeal, presided over by Justice Oyewole, granted EFCC’s application from a team of lawyers led by Jibrin Okutepa, (SAN), to serve the processes in the appeal by substituted means on the former governor.

Olukoyede 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 following the siege laid at the former governor’s Abuja home after the court ruled in favour of Bello in the fundamental human rights suits he filed before the court.

The EFCC boss, however, appealed the ruling of the trial court and sought a stay of the proceedings of the court.

The Kogi State 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 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 to 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.

Okutepa and Adanu Emmanuel Ogwiji, Esq represented EFCC, while Victor Oni, Esq represented the Respondent.