I gave Justice Yunusa gift not bribe, says Tarfa

Rickey Tarfa

Rickey Tarfa

Court rules on claim Mar 15

Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), counsel to the embattled Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Rickey Tarfa, has said the gift his client admitted giving to Justice Mohammed Yunusa did not violate the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers.

He referred to Rule 3 (f) (2) (i) of the Code, which says in part: “A judicial officer is, however, permitted to accept personal gifts or benefits from relatives or personal friends to such extent and on such occasion as are recognised by custom.”

Ayorinde took the stance yesterday at the resumed hearing of the N2.5 billion fundamentals rights enforcement suit filed by Tarfa against ‎the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

After entertaining arguments from parties to the case, the Federal High Court, Lagos reserved judgment for March 15.

Tarfa had sought and obtained the leave of court to file additional evidence after arguments had already been concluded and case slated for judgment.

Insisting that there were fresh facts, Ayorinde filed a better and further affidavit deposed to by a former employee of Tarfa’s firm, Mohammed Awwal Yunusa, saying the account number which the EFCC alleged belonged to Justice Mohammed Yunusa actually belonged to him.

In response, the EFCC in its counter-affidavit, alleged that Tarfa paid another judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Hyeladzira Ajiya Nganjiwa, N5.3 million between June 27, 2012 and December 23, 2014.

The agency said it uncovered a “network of collaboration and illicit transfer of funds” between Tarfa, Justice Nganjiwa and Justice Mohammed Yunusa, who EFCC alleged Tarfa bribed with N225,000.

According to the EFCC, Tarfa paid a total of N5,335,000.00 to Justice Nganjiwa’s personal account with Fidelity Bank Plc.

It alleged Justice Nganjiwa then transferred N1.6 million to Justice Yunusa through a personal UBA Plc account, 1005055617.

EFCC noted that it discovered that Justice Nganjiwa sent bank details of his company, Awa Ajia Nigeria Limited, to Tarfa, adding that the company was incorporated in 2006, with Access Bank Plc account number 0000971931.

The commission said Tarfa was a referee to Awa Ajia’s account, through which money was transferred to Justice Yunusa’s UBA account.

Arguing his position, Ayorinde said the anti-graft agency ought to admit its mistake when it discovered that it made a “fundamental error” in attributing the account to the judge, when actually it is not.

“They should give in and apologise to the applicant,” Ayorinde said.

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