Wednesday, February 24, 2016 12:19 pm
There is a twist in the drama between a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Rickey Tarfa, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the N225,000 alleged bribe that EFCC claimed Tarfa gave to Justice Mohammed Yunusa of a Federal High Court, Lagos.
The senior lawyer based in Lagos now says that EFCC and his operative lied in their statement and wants to charge them with perjury.
In an earlier response to the allegation, Tarfa had claimed through an affidavit by Segun Odubela that the money in question was a donation from a committee of friends of the judge, including him, to support the judge in respect of the burial of his late father-in-law in Maiduguri since they could not be there physically.
However, the senior lawyer has now filed a new information about what the money was meant for and who collected it. He said the money was paid to a former staff of the chambers, who shares a similar name with Justice Yunusa.
The new information was contained in an affidavit of urgency deposed to by head of chambers, Rickey Tarfa (SAN) and Co., Mr. Segun Odubela. (Read Today Newspaper)
According to the affidavit, a former staff of the chambers, Mohammed Awwal Yunusa, an indigene of Kogi State is the owner of the Access Bank account which the anti-graft agency had earlier said belonged to Justice Mohammed Yunusa.
Odubela stated that Mohammed Awwal Yunusa was following the case of his former employer through media outlets where he immediately noticed that the account No. 0060351694 referred to in the counter affidavit as filed by EFCC in response to the substantive suit is his account number.
He said he was contacted by the office accountant, Mr. Samaila H. Malgwi, of the Abuja office at No. 2, Librevile Street off Aminu Kano Crescent Wuse II, Abuja on February 22, 2016.
In a motion on notice brought pursuant to sections 33, 34, 35, 37, 41, 44 and 46 of the constitution 1999 as amended, Articles 2, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 12(1) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) ACT CAP 10, LFN,1990; Tarfa sought the court for an order granting him leave to re-open and adduce further evidence by way of a further and better affidavit of Mr. Mohammed Awwal Yunusa in this case.
Specifically, he asked the court for an order granting leave to him to use a further and better affidavit of Mr. Mohammed Awwal Yunusa in support of the application for enforcement of his fundamental rights in this case.
Moses Awolusi from the anti-graft agency had stated in paragraph 54 of the agency’s counter affidavit that investigations carried out by the respondents into the applicant’s firm’s (Rickey Tarfa and Co) Access Bank account with account No. 0000964760 showed that the applicant on January 7, 2014 bribed his Lordship, Justice M.N. Yunusa with the sum of N225,000.
Tarfa was arrested by operatives of the commission on February 5, within the premises of the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere after a five-hour stand off during which the EFCC claimed that he prevented its operatives from arresting two of Tarfa’s clients.
The commission alleged that Tarfa hid the foreigners in his car from about 11:30 am until some minutes past 5pm.
In response to the senior lawyer’s suit, the EFCC filed preliminary objection on the grounds that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
In a counter-affidavit filed on February 19 by one of the commission’s operatives that arrested Tarfa, Moses Awolusi said that a check carried out on the Access Bank account of Tarfa’s law firm revealed that a sum of N225,000 was sent to Justice Mohammed Yunusa on January 7, 2014.
The EFCC claimed the amount was a bribe.
Awolusi said: “I know from the facts revealed during investigation that the said bribe of N225,000 was accepted and acknowledged by Justice Yunusa in a text message to the applicant, wherein he said, ‘Thank you, my senior advocate.’
“I also know that investigations have revealed that the applicant’s law firm was in the habit of asking the Chief Registrar of the Lagos Judicial Division of the Federal High Court to assign his cases before His Lordship, Honourable Justice M.N. Yunusa in furtherance of the understanding between the applicant and the particular judge.”
The case is being heard in the Federal High Court.
In urging the court to dismiss Tarfa’s claim for exemplary damages of N2.5b, Shittu said from the facts available the commission never set out to arrest the applicant.
He said Tarfa invited arrest by obstructing the commission’s officials from carrying out their lawful duties.
“I urge the court to dismiss the entire suit with punitive costs,” Shittu added.