Saturday, 16 April 2016

Court adjourns ruling in Tarfa’s case to April 20

The case of the embattled Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ricky Tarfa, against the EFCC suffered a setback yesterday as the agency said before a Lagos state High Court sitting at Igbosere, Lagos, that he lacks the locus standi to challenge the prosecutorial power of the agency.
The commission noted further that all the objections raised in the application filed before the court, urging the court to quash the charge against him was an after thought.
After listening to the submission of both counsels in the case, the court adjourned the matter to April 20 for ruling.
Tarfa, who was docked before Justice A. A Akintoye on March 9, is facing a-27 count charge bordering on refusal to declare assets and offering gratification to a public officer preferred against him by the anti-graft agency.
At the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed Tarfa’s application to quash the charge against him.
Tarfa had earlier urged the court to quash the charge against him, for lack of jurisdiction among others.
The counsel to the defendant, Anthony Idigbe SAN, argued that the EFCC cannot be the complainant, the investigator and as well as the prosecutor.
“We submit that this is contrary to natural justice of equity and good conscience. This is also in breach of section 36 of the 1999 Constitution,which requires that every citizen should have fair hearing in other to guarantee independence and impartiality in every proceeding.
“The procedure that such charge should get the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) advice was not followed. This presents a glaring threat to the right of citizens under section 36 of the Constitution, “ he said.
Idigbe stated that Section 172 and 209 of the Constitution makes provision for compulsory declaration of assets by public officials, explaining that since his client is not a public officer, ‎the charge respecting that cannot be sustained.
But in a swift response to the application EFCC filed a-12 paragraph counter affidavit sworn to by Moses Awolusi, an operative of the agency, it also filed a written address dated March 21, 2016 and urged the court to discountenance all the prayers of the applicant.
Oyedepo, sited plethora of authorities to back his submissions.
He said that section 27 of the EFCC Act, empowered the commission to investigate and prosecute the defendant on the alleged offences.
Oyedepo also said that the action of the anti-graft agency was not in any way in contravention of Section 212 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
Besides he said he will also be relying on the record of the court dated March 9, 2016, in which the court ordered the registrar to read and explain the charge to the defendant to which he said he understood and pleaded not guilty to the charge.

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