The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal has fixed January 19, 2017 to hear an appeal filed by an embattled Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Rickey Tarfa, challenging his trial for alleged bribery by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The EFCC had on March 10, 2016 arraigned Tarfa for allegedly offering a gratification of N5.3m to Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court.
Tarfa was arraigned on 27 counts before Justice A.A. Akintoye of a Lagos State High Court in Igbosere.
But he had, through his lawyers, challenged the jurisdiction of Justice Akintoye to entertain the case.
He also challenged the statutory power of the EFCC to file the charges against him and urged the court to quash the charges.
But in a ruling on April 22, 2016, Justice Akintoye turned down Tarfa’s prayer to quash the charges.
The judge said she found enough substance in the proof of evidence placed before the court by the EFCC to warrant calling for the trial of the case.
But displeased, Tarfa approached the appellate court seeking to overturn the lower court’s ruling.
When the case was called on Tuesday, Tarfa’s lawyer, Mr. Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), told the appellate court panel led by Justice Mohammed Garuba, that he had compiled and transmitted the record of appeal, adding that the appeal was ripe for hearing.
Also, the EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, told the panel that the commission had filed its briefs and was ready for the hearing.
But the panel adjourned till January 19, 2017 to hear the appeal.
In her ruling, Justice Akintoye had rejected Tarfa’s argument that charges filed against him by the EFCC amounted to a violation of his rights.
The judge had held that the EFCC Establishment Act imposed on the anti-graft agency “the statutory duty, obligation and mandate to investigate and prosecute all cases of economic crimes.”
The judge upheld the argument of the EFCC that a court of law could not restrain a statutory body from performing its statutory duties.
She held, “There commission is therefore duty-bound to perform its statutory duty without interference from external body, including but not limited to the court.
“This court will, therefore, not restrain the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission from performing any of its statutory duties in respect of anyone including the applicant in this case. I hold that this court has the jurisdiction to entertain the information/charges dated 4th of March 2016.”