A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Rickey Tarfa, who was charged with the offence of offering gratification to judges to allegedly pervert the course of justice, opened his defence on Wednesday, calling three witnesses.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is prosecuting Tarfa before the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere.
In the 26 charges filed against him, the EFCC claimed that the senior lawyer offered gratifications of N5.3m and N225,000 to Justices Hyeladzira Nganjiwa and Mohammed Yunusa respectively.
The anti-graft agency claimed that Tarfa offered the money to the judges to pervert the course of justice.
Tarfa, who was first arraigned on March 9, 2016 and later re-arraigned on November 16, 2016, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
After the closure of the prosecution’s case he filed a no-case submission, which the court dismissed, holding that he had a case to answer and ordering him to open his defence.
On Wednesday, Tarfa opened his defence fielding as his third witness one Mohammed Awwal Yunusa, who described himself as former employee in Tarfa’s law firm between 2011 and 2014.
Led in evidence by the defence counsel, Mr. Jelili Owonikoko (SAN), the witness, Yunusa, told the court that he left Tarfa’s employment in 2014 to further his studies abroad, adding that the law firm sent N225,000 into his Access Bank account to support his education.
He, however, said he read with dismay in the newspapers the EFCC quoting his own Access Bank account number as that of Justice Mohammed Nasir Yunusa, who the EFCC claimed was bribed by Tarfa.
Yinusa said, “I found that my Access Bank account was quoted in that publication. I was in a state of shock.
“I was shocked, My Lord, because I am not a judge; I never received gratification from the defendant. My name is Mohammed Auwal Yinusa. The judge’s name is Mohammed Nasir Yinusa. I am not related to him. He is from Yobe State; I am Igala from Kogi State. Until recently when I saw him on television, I had never set my eyes on him.”
Before Yunusa’s testimony, a relationship officer at Access Bank, Abisola Olutade, and an official of the National Judicial Council, Olufolake Ahmed, had testified as first and second defence witnesses respectively.
Further proceedings in the case were adjourned till Thursday (today).
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.