The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has urged Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos to dismiss the N2.5bn fundamental rights enforcement suit filed against it by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Rickey Tarfa.
Tarfa filed the suit to challenge his alleged unlawful arrest and detention by the EFCC on February 5.
But the EFCC, in a counter-affidavit to the suit, said Tarfa was arrested for obstructing the arrest of two suspects of financial crimes, by hiding them in his car.
In trying to convince the court to dismiss Tarfa’s case, one of the EFCC operatives, who arrested Tarfa, Moses Awolusi, stated in the counter-affidavit that a check carried out into the Access Bank account of Tarfa’s law firm revealed that a sum of N225,000 was sent to Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court on January 7, 2014, which the EFCC claimed was a bribe.
Awolusi said, “I know from the facts revealed during investigation that the said bribe of N225,000 was accepted and acknowledged by Justice Yunusa in a text message to the applicant, wherein he said, ‘Thank you, my senior advocate’.
“I also know that investigations have revealed that the applicant’s law firm was in the habit of asking the Chief Registrar of the Lagos Judicial Division of the Federal High Court to assign his cases before His Lordship, Honourable Justice M. N. Yunusa, in furtherance of the understanding between the applicant and the particular judge.
“I know that investigations have revealed that even junior counsel in the law firm of the applicant also engage in corrupt practices of their boss by manipulating the Federal High Court Registry to fix and assign cases filed by them to particular judges.”
Awolusi added that Tarfa had been charged to court with his mobile telephone number 08034600000, registered as an exhibit in the criminal charge filed against the SAN.
Awolusi said the EFCC found several incriminating materials on Tarfa’s mobile, which he said could not yet be revealed in view of ongoing investigations.
The witness recalled how sometime in 2005, “in line with his corrupt practices, the applicant collected the sum of $500,000 from one of his clients under the pretext that he was going to bribe some officials of the first respondent.”
He added, “That upon the investigation and confirmation of the serious allegation of bribery, the first respondent charged the applicant before the Lagos High Court.
“That although four witnesses gave evidence for the prosecution, including a respected legal practitioner, Babajide Ogundipe, the applicant was discharged but not acquitted by the Lagos High Court on mere technical grounds.
“That notwithstanding that the applicant narrowly escaped conviction in the said case of attempted bribery, he has continued to engage in corrupt practices with wanton impunity.
“That having become totally engrossed in corruption, the applicant has since extended his despicable conduct to the temple of justice, by bribing judges and court officials.
“That I know as a fact that on April 29, 2015, the applicant’s law firm represented Mr. Michael Igbinedion, the son of Chief Igbinedion, who was standing trial for money laundering of N25bn before the Benin Division of the Federal High Court and the applicant’s client’s son was subsequently convicted by the trial judge, Liman J.
“That I know as a fact that on April 30, 2015, the applicant attended the launching (presentation) of a book in honour of Justice Ibrahim Auta, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court at Abuja, in company with Chief Igbinedion, the chief launcher and that on that occasion, the applicant introduced Chief Igbinedion to judges and senior lawyers who attended the programme.
“That I know as a fact that the applicant’s client, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, made a donation of N8m on the occasion to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court in spite of knowledge by Chief Gabriel Igbinedion that his son, Michael, who had been convicted, was awaiting the sentence of the Federal High Court in criminal proceedings pending against Gabriel Igbinedion’s son, Michael, before the Federal High Court.
“That I know that a few hours to the donation of the said sum of N8m to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court by the applicant’s client, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion’s convicted son was sentenced to a year imprisonment or N1m (fine) through a questionable plea bargain which was condemned by all right-thinking Nigerians.”
The matter has been fixed for Friday (today) for argument before Justice Idris.