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Friday, 19 February 2016

The Bribe-Taking Judge. What A Shame!

It is said that those who come to equity must come with clean hands. It is therefore unfair if the people entrusted with responsibilities get compromised. The Economic and Financial Crimes  Commission in a counter-affidavit to the N2.5 billion suit by Chief Rickey Tarfa (SAN) before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos challenging his arrest and detention, told the court that Tarfa allegedly bribed Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the same court with N225,000.

The EFCC, averred that Tarfa, on January 7, 2014, transferred the money to Justice Yunusa and that the judge acknowledged the “bribe” with the words: “Thank you my senior advocate.” Attached to the counter-affidavit is MTN call log, filed by EFCC’s lawyer, Wahab Shittu. Tarfa was charged before a Lagos High Court on Tuesday by the EFCC on a two-count charge of obstruction of justice and attempting to pervert the course of justice by communicating with a Federal High Court judge that was handling a suit filed by him against the commission. EFCC alleged that on February 5, Tarfa
hid two suspects, Nazaire Sorou Gnanhoue and Modeste Finagnon, both in his Mercedes Benz SUV, thereby shielding them from arrest and wilfully obstructing the course of justice.

In Tarfa’s suit, he had asked the court to compel the defendants to release his two mobile handsets, which he said were “deceitfully collected” from him for the purpose of destroying all information, data and other retrievable materials stored on them. However, EFCC, in the counter-affidavit challenging the suit by A. Awolusi, denied violating Tarfa’s rights, saying that its operative received an intelligence report of fresh criminal allegations against Nazaire and Modeste not covered by the pending criminal proceedings. The commission stated that based on the report, its operatives were directed to invite Nazaire and Modeste for further interrogation and undertaking that they would not escape from justice. It was averred that they were asked to wait outside the court premises for the suspects and to also brief Tarfa on the new development.

Awolusi said the suspects were sighted outside the court at about 11:30am. According to him, “We explained our mission politely and courteously. The applicant (Tarfa) deliberately kept the suspects locked up in his black Mercedes Benz SUV, and prevented the EFCC operatives, including myself, from gaining access to the suspects and also prevented the suspects from honouring the invitation.” It was when they disembarked that the suspects along with Tarfa were arrested."

Among items seized from Tarfa were his phones, which Awolusi said was due to intelligence report and he communicated this to the justice saying “in a desperate bid to pervert the cause of justice in an earlier proceedings involving the suspects”. The operative said when data on Tarfa’s mobile phones were analysed, “startling revelations about secret, unhealthy communications between the applicant and judicial officers emerged”. Awolusi averred that the EFCC’s investigation of Tarfa’s bank account number “shows that before the institution of the above proceeding, particularly on January 7, 2014, the applicant bribed Justice Yunusa with the sum of N225,000. “A copy of the applicant’s firm account details, showing the transfer of N225,000 from the applicant’s firm to Justice Yunusa, is hereby shown to me and marked Exhibit O.”

The case comes up on Friday for hearing.

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