Court defers Tarfa’s N2.5b rights suit against EFCC pending rules on criminal charges against him

Rickey Tarfa

Rickey Tarfa

A federal High Court, Lagos yesterday stayed further proceedings in the N2.5 billion fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by the embattled Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Rickey Tarfa, against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) pending the outcome of his trial at the Lagos High Court, Igbosere.

The trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris in his ruling, granted EFCC’s request asking that proceedings should be stayed pending the hearing and final determination of a pending criminal charge against Tarfa before Justice Aishat Opesanwo of the Igbosere High Court.

Justice Idris, while noting that though there is not law that forbids the hearing of both civil and criminal matters pari passu, however, added that a court retains discretion to stay civil proceedings during the pendency of criminal proceedings.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the substantial part of the reliefs sought herein do have a direct bearing with the charge pending at the Lagos High Court. It is clear from the evidence before the court that the applicant’s mobile handset and SUV have been registered as exhibits to be tendered at the criminal proceedings. Also, the information and data retrieved from the mobile handset are to be used as evidence in the criminal charge at the Lagos High Court”, the judge said.

“But, there is a potential injustice that may befall the defendant in the prosecution of the criminal charge if this suit were to proceed to judgment and judgment were for instance, given in favour of the applicant. There is a strong possibility that it will signal the end of the criminal charge at the Lagos High Court. This court should not make orders that will strike violently at the heart of the criminal charge now pending at the Lagos High Court.

“For the above reasons, I am of the view that in the light of the peculiar circumstances of this case which is unprecedented, this is a proper case which proceedings should be stayed pending the hearing of the criminal charge at the Lagos High Court”, Justice Idris held.

He, however, ordered the anti-graft body to speedily conclude the trial to allow for continuation of the N2.5 billion enforcement rights suit before him.

Tarfa had sued the agency’s Executive Chairman, Ibrahim Mustapha Magu, Deputy Director, Iliyasu Kwarbai and an operative, Moses Awolusi, claiming that his “arrest on February 5, 2016 inside a court room of Hon. Justice. O. O. Oke without any reasonable cause, valid warrant of arrest or order of competent court is unlawful, illegal, calculated to humiliate, embarrass him and contrary to Sections 34,35,and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (as amended) as well as Articles 2,4,6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap, 10,LFN, 1990.”

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