The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday re-arraigned Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN) for allegedly offering gratification to some judges in order to pervert the course of justice.
Tarfa was re-arraigned on amended 26 counts before Justice A.A. Akintoye of the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere.
The EFCC had earlier on March 9, 2016 arraigned Tarfa on 27 counts before the same judge.
His re-arraignment on Wednesday followed the amendment of the charges.
The EFCC reduced counts filed against Tarfa from 27 to 26 and substituted Section 38(2) for Section 39(2) of the EFCC Act, 2004 as the law which Tarfa allegedly violated.
At the Wednesday’s proceedings, Tarfa’s lawyer, Mr. Jelili Owonikoko (SAN), had opposed the bid by the EFCC to re-arraign his client on the amended charge.
Owonikoko contended that the arraignment of his client would overreach the outcome of an appeal filed by his client at the Court of Appeal to challenge the competence of the original 27 counts.
He argued that such an amendment and re-arraignment of his client would occasion a breach of Section 39(9) of the Constitution, which, he said, prohibited a prosecutor from arraigning a defendant twice for the same offence.
While noting that the Court of Appeal had already fixed January 19, 2017 to hear Tarfa’s appeal challenging the charges against him, Owonikoko urged Justice Akintoye to reject the prayer by the EFCC to re-arraign Tarfa.
But the EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to discountenance Owonikoko’s objection and allow Tarfa’s re-arraignment.
Oyedepo argued that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act allowed the prosecution to amend a charge at any time before judgment was given.
He described Owonikoko’s objection as a ploy to delay the case.
In a bench ruling, Justice Akintoye ruled in favour of the EFCC, holding that there was nothing wrong in amending the charge and re-arraigning Tarfa.
She ordered the court registrar to read the amended charges to the defendant.
Tarfa pleaded not guilty to the entire 26 counts.
The court subsequently adjourned the case till November 28, 2016 for continuation of trial.
The EFCC accused Tarfa of transferring a total of N5.3m to Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court between June 27, 2012 and December 23, 2014 in order to allegedly compromise the judge.
Tarfa was also accused of refusing to declare his assets to the anti-graft agency on February 10, contrary to the provisions of Section 27(3) (c) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004.
Among other things, the EFCC also charged Tarfa with the offence of giving false information to the anti-graft agency by allegedly giving his age as 43 when he was indeed 54, an act the EFCC claimed to be an offence under Section Section 39(2) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004.