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Rickey Tarfa Appeal Court reserves judgment in SAN’s alleged bribery charges

Justice Mohammed Garba has reserved judgment in the two appeals filed by Tarfa after hearing arguments from counsel to the parties.

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Rickey Tarfa SAN

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The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, on Thursday reserved judgments in appeals by Rickey Tarfa (SAN), challenging his trial over alleged bribery.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Tarfa for allegedly obstructing officers of the law from carrying out their duties as well as for falsifying his age

The appellate court presided over by Justice Mohammed Garba reserved judgment in the two appeals filed by Tarfa after hearing arguments from counsel to the parties.

Garba said that dates would be communicated to parties.

Mr Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN) appeared for the appellant while Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, represented the respondent (EFCC).

Tarfa had appealed the rulings of Justice Adedayo Akintoye and Justice Aishat Opesanwo, both of the Lagos High Court, over their refusal to quash charges filed against him by the Commission.

The EFCC had filed a 27-count charge against Tarfa before Justice Akintoye, but Tarfa through his lawyer, filed preliminary objection and urged the court to quash the charge.

He claimed that the charge was defective and that EFCC had no statutory power to try him on the alleged offences.

Tarfa had argued that the proof of evidence supplied by the EFCC failed to support the charges, describing the charges as incompetent and an abuse of court processes.

But, Akintoye in her ruling, stated that the objection lacked substance and held that the information filed before the court disclosed a prima facie case which must be determined.

In refusing Tarfa’s claim, the judge referred to the provisions of the EFCC Establishment Act which imposed on the agency the statutory duty to investigate and prosecute all cases of economic crimes.

 Opesanwo had also dismissed Tarfa’s preliminary objection to the charge of obstructing officers of the law from carrying out their duties.

Dissatisfied, Tarfa filed an appeal and urged the appellate court to allow his appeal and declare the charge incompetent.

Arguing the appeals, Owonikoko stated that while the appeal was pending, EFCC re-arraigned Tarfa on a reduced 26 counts charge bordering on the same offences it preferred against him on March 10, 2016.

He argued that by allowing EFCC to amend the charge, the lower court overreached the decision of the Court of Appeal.

He submitted that the amended charge raised constitutional issues that an accused person should not be charged twice for the same offence.

‪Owonikoko argued that the amended charge is a violation of Section 39(9) of the Constitution which prohibits a prosecutor from arraigning a defendant twice for the same offence.‪

But in his response, EFCC lawyer, Oyedepo argued that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) allowed the prosecution to amend a charge at any time before judgment was given.

Oyedepo argued that the EFCC had done nothing wrong as there was no order to stay proceedings either from the lower court or from the appellate court.

He urged the court to dismiss the appeal and uphold the decision of the lower court.

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