- The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is not relenting in its case against Mr Ricky Tarfa (SAN)
- The anti-graft commission submitted an indicting evidence to the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court against Tarfa
- They are details of alleged telephone conversations and text messages between Tarfa and a High Court judge in an ongoing bribery case
The EFCC has submitted an indicting evidence to the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, containing details of alleged telephone conversations and text messages between Mr Ricky Tarfa (SAN) and a High Court judge in an ongoing bribery case.
At the resumed hearing on Thursday, May 12, an EFCC operative, Danladi Daniel informed the court of details of the evidence traced to Tarfa and Mohammed Yinusa and H.A. Ngajiwa, both of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
While under cross-examination by Tarfa’s counsel, Abiodun Owonikoko, Daniel said the lawyer and the judges exchanged bank account details over the phone in an alleged attempt to pervert the course of justice.
His words: “On January 2, 2014, there were three text messages between the defendant and a member of his staff stating that they were in court for a case to be assigned before Justice Yinusa.
“There are biometrics captured by MTN communications of the defendant and Justice Yinusa, the voice communications were from Tarfa’s MTN, number- 08034600777 and Justice Yinusa’s MTN number-08035967291.”
Tarfa’s lawyer however, swiftly countered the allegations against his client, saying the EFCC had no case because it allegedly obtained some of its evidence by deceit.
Premium Times quoted the lawyer as saying: “The defendant’s phones were retrieved by deceit by the operatives of the EFCC; they told Tarfa’s driver that his boss was requesting for his phones and when he brought the phones, they were seized.”
He further stated that the EFCC obtained the call logs after it had already charged Tarfa to court, adding that the commission's officials also allegedly failed to prepare a citation of his client prior to his arraignment.
“The phones did not become an exhibit of the EFCC until February 9, after the defendant was charged. You did not try during the course of your investigation to profile Rickey Tarfa and his law firm,” he added.
But Daniel read aloud details of alleged voice communications including late night calls between Tarfa and Yunusa.
“Esther Agu, a staff of the defendant, made a payment of N2.5 million into the bank account of Justice Yinusa.Based on the account records, the payments were made on May 15, 2015.
“The payments were made when there were three EFCC cases in which Tarfa was the counsel for the opposing parties before Justice Yinusa.
“The communications started sometime in February 2015 and ended sometime in September 2015 after judgments were delivered in those cases.”
“There were some text messages between Justice Ngajiwa and the defendant on October 16, 2014, in which Justice Ngajiwa sent his Guaranty Trust Bank details to the defendant.
“The defendant also sent another person a text message on that day to pay $5, 000 into the bank account of the judge,” Daniel said.
Owonikoko however insisted that the EFCC has no evidence directly linking Tarfa’s chambers to the bank accounts of the judges.
“Our findings revealed that the alleged UBA bank account which belonged to Justice Mohammed Yinusa, belonged to someone who bears the same name, one Mr Mohammed Auwal Yinusa,” he said.
He however noted that Tarfa was in touch with the judges as acquaintances.
“Justice Yinusa was one year junior to Rickey Tarfa when he was studying law at the University of Maiduguri from 1982-1986 and they are friends.
“Justice Ngajiwa worked at the chambers of Rickey Tarfa for over 17 years. Ever since Ngajiwa became a judge, Rickey Tarfa has never had a case before him.
“Before Ngajiwa became a judge, he had over 300 cases he was handling at the Rickey Tarfa chambers some of which are still pending in court,” Owonikoko said.
The presiding judge, Aishat Opesanwo, adjourned the case to Friday, July 7 for continuation of trial.
Recall that Tarfa was first arraigned by the EFCC on February 16, 2016, on two-count charge of obstruction of justice and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Watch the arraignment of a former NNPC boss, Andrew Yakubu in the NAIJ.com video below.