There was mild drama in court yesterday after Rickey Tarfa, a SAN was arraigned by the The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC appeared with 90 senior advocates of Nigeria.
The anti graft agency arraigned Mr Tarfa before Justice Aishat Opesanwo of Lagos State High Court, Igbosere, on 2-count charge of obstruction of justice and attempting to pervert the course of justice. Mr. Tarfa pleaded not guilty to both counts.
Based on his plea, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo prayed the court for a trial date and to remand the defendant in custody.
However, Adeniyi Akintola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, who led a team of over 90 Senior Advocates and other lawyers to represent Mr. Tarfa, said they had filed an application for bail which he said was served on the prosecution on the 10th of February, 2016.
In his application for bail, the defence counsel told the court that the defendant went to court voluntarily and that he was granted administrative bail by EFCC on self-recognition.
He said the defendant was a very senior member of the bar with no criminal record. He said there was nothing to show that the defendant would jump bail.
However, prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to dismiss the application as the offence was grave. He urged the court to dismiss the application and order for an accelerated hearing.
Justice Opesanwo, in her ruling, granted bail to Mr. Tarfa on self-recognition but ordered that he must not travel out of the country without the permission of the court.
The trial judge bemoaned the number of counsel who were in court for the defendant. She noted that there was no need for such magnitude of support as it amounts to harassment and intimidation of the court.
Soon after the ruling, Mr. Akintola told the court that he had filed an application to quash the charge.
Mr. Rotimi responded that he had not been served. He was subsequently served by the defence counsel in open court.
Justice Opesanwo adjourned the matter to March 14, for hearing of the application to quash the charge while the substantive case was fixed for April 20, 2016 for trial.
Mr. Ricky Tarfa, SAN, is accused of willfully obstructing two officers of the EFCC, Moses Awolusi and Sanusi Mohammed from arresting Gnanhooue Sourou and Nazaire Odeste, who were suspected to have committed economic and financial crimes in contravention of Section 38(2) (a) of the EFCC Establishment Act of 2004.
Also, he is alleged to have engaged in improper communication with Justice M. Yunusa of the Federal High Court Lagos between May 11 and June 25, 2015 while the case between the EFCC and two others was pending before the judge.
No be small thing….