A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ricky Tarfa, was on Tuesday arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before a Lagos High Court on a two- count charge bordering on obstruction of justice and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
EFCC had in charge No- LD/2417C/16 filed before Justice Aishat Opesanwo alleged that Tarfa on February 5, 2016 hid two suspects, Nazaire Sorou Gnanhoue and Modeste Finagnon, both Beninoise in his Mercedes Benz Sports Utility car, thereby shielding them from being arrested and willfully obstructing the course of justice.
The suspects were alleged to have fraudulently converted some sophisticated manufacturing equipment belonging to Rana Prestige Nigeria Limited for their own use.
Besides, they are being investigated for alleged tax evasion running into millions of naira.
Tarfa was alleged to have prevented two operatives of the EFCC who were officially detailed to effect their arrest from carrying out their statutory duties.
Tarfa’s defence counsel, Niyi Akintola SAN who led 14 other senior Advocates and about 150 other lawyers in his application for bail brought pursuant to Section 115 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law urged the court to grant the defendant bail on self-recognition.
Akintola told the court that the defendant was granted administrative bail by the EFCC and has consistently reported to the office of EFCC every morning by 8:00am.
He stated that the defendant has submitted himself for trial and was prepared to defend the charge filed against him by the Commission.
He added that being a senior Advocate of Nigeria, the defendant will not jumped bail adding that he has over 16 lawyers in his law firm.
But, opposing the application, EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo urged the court to dismiss the application for bail and remand the defendant in prison custody.
He urged the court to dis-countenance the argument that the defendant is senior Advocate of Nigeria adding that in consideration of crime of this nature the personality of the defendant is not relevant.
He also urged the court to disregard the submissions of the defence lawyer that Tarfa was granted bail on self recognition stressing that he was granted administrative bail following an undertaken by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
After standing the matter down for almost hours, Justice Opesanwo in her ruling granted the defendant bail in self recognition.
The court however ordered that the defendant should not travelling out the country without informing the court.
Justice Opesanwo stated that the defendant presented overwhelming evidence before the court that has not been controverted by the prosecution.
The court added that the prosecution did not deny the fact that Tarfa was granted administrative bail and has not defaulted.
The matter has been adjourned till March 14 for hearing of the application filed by Tarfa asking the court to quash the charge and April 20 for trial.
The two-count charge reads “That you Rickey Tarfa on or about February 5 2016 within the jurisdiction of the court
wilfully abstracted Moses Awolusi and Sanusi Muhammed authorised officers of the EFCC from arresting Nazaire Sorou
Gnanhoue and Modeste Finance who were reasonably suspected to have committed economic and financial Crimes by keeping the said suspects in your car between 11:00 hours to 16:30 hours”.
“That you Rickey Tarfa SAN between May 11 and June 252015 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of the court attempted to pervert the course of justice by communicating with Justice Mohammed Yinusa of the Federal High Court through your mobile telephone no-08034600000 while suit No-FHC/716 between Hair Prestige Manufacturing Nigeria and EFCC filed by you on behalf of the applicants seeking to restrain the Commission from performing it’s statutory duties were pending before the said judge”.