Embattled Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Rickey Tarfa yesterday asked an Igbosere High Court, Lagos, to quash a criminal charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Tarfa is standing trial on a two-count charge bordering on obstruction of officers of law to carry out their official duty and attempt to pervert the course of justice.
At the resumed hearing on Monday, counsel to the accused, Mr Abiodun J. Owonikoko, SAN, urged the court to quash the charge.
Owonikoko informed the court that EFCC had no right to prosecute any general criminal offences outside economic and financial crimes, adding that the case which Tarfa was being accused of was already before the Court of Appeal, and therefore constituted an abuse of court processes, and should be quashed.
Tarfa’s lawyer stated that by virtue of Section 286 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2004, the EFCC could not be a complainant, an investigator and at the same time a prosecutor.
“The filing of this charge is a clear case of abuse of court process; therefore the proper order is to dismiss the charge.”
However, the counsel to EFCC, Mr G. K. Latona urged the court to disregard the submission of the accused, saying that existence of a civil appeal does not have any relation with this particular case, and that the Federal Republic of Nigeria was not a party to the case before the Appeal Court.
He further argued that the commission did not abuse court processes.
Tarfa was arraigned before the court by the EFCC on February 16 for allegedly obstructed their officers from carrying out their lawful duty.
The SAN, however, pleaded not guilty and was granted bail on self recognition.
EFCC had told the court that the accused committed the offences between May 11 and June 25, 2015, also on February 5, 2016, in Lagos.
The commission alleged that on February 5, the accused willfully obstructed one Moses Awolusi and one Sanusi Mohammed, who were EFCC officers, from arresting one Gnanhoue Sourou and one Nazaire Odeste, who were reasonably suspected to have committed economic and financial crimes “by keeping the said suspects in his car from 11am to 4:30pm.”
The prosecutor also alleged that between May 11 and June 25, 2015, the accused attempted to pervert the course of justice.
Meanwhile, Justice Ashiat Opesanwo adjourned till April 20 for ruling on the application and for a possible trial.