EFCC vs Rickey Tarfa: What happened in court on Tuesday

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The trial of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Rickey Tarfa (SAN) charged with alleged N520 million bribe was on Tuesday stalled again due to Tarfa’s ill health.

The EFCC charged Tarfa with 26 counts of offering monetary gratification to two judges of the Federal High Court – Justices Hyeladzira Nganjiwa and Mohammed.

At the resumed hearing of the case, the defendant’s counsel, Mr Jelili Owonikoko (SAN), informed the court that the defendant was in the court’s premises but could not enter the court room due to the severity of his illness.

He said the defence had filed a medical recommendation, asking the court to extend the medical leave given to the defendant for a period of three months to enable him recuperate.

“The defendant is in a vehicle in the court premises,” he said.

However, the defence counsel, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecuting team headed by Mr Usman Buhari and the court’s registrar all went to the vehicle to see the defendant.

When they came in, the EFCC prosecutor, Buhari who stood in for Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that they saw the defendant in the vehicle.

He also said that the medical report was served on them, therefore had no objection for more time to be given to the defendant to recuperate.

Justice Adedayo Akintoye, however, advised that the defendant must not travel outside the country without court’s knowledge.

She adjourned the case until May 8 and 9 for continuation of trial.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that on the last adjourned date, March 11, the case did not go on because the judge went for an official duty.

NAN also recalls that on Jan. 21, the trial did not go on because of the absence of the defendant.

Tarfa’s counsel, Owonikoko (SAN), had told the court that his client traveled outside the country for medical treatment.

He said the condition of his client was so bad that he had to travel for surgical operations.

The EFCC counsel confirmed to the court that he received the medical report and a letter from the defendant requesting for vacation of trial date to further date.

He, however, said that the defendant should have come to court to apply for leave to travel before embarking on such a trip.

NAN reports that EFCC had in their charge claimed that between June 27, 2012 and Jan. 8, 2016, Tarfa paid a total of N5.3 million in several tranches into Justice Nganjiwa’s account.

He was also accused of paying into Justice Yunusa’s account, a total of N800,000 in three tranches between Feb. 9 and Nov. 30, 2015.

The SAN was equally accused of age falsification.

Upon his arraignment on March 9, 2016 and subsequent re-arraignment on Nov. 16, 2016, Tarfa pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail on self recognizance.

The EFCC had since closed its case with Tarfa entering his defence after the court dismissed the no-case submission he filed.

NAN also reports that Tarfa’s first witness, Deputy Chief Registrar (DCR)of the Federal High Court in Lagos, Mr Bello Okandeji, was yet to finish his cross-examination.

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