By Sadiq Umar – Attempt by accused Lawyer, Rickey Tarfa, (SAN), to introduce new evidence in a court case challenging his alleged unlawful arrest and detention by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), suffered a setback Monday, as the court deferred ruling on the application to yet another day.
The new affidavit says Mohammed Awwual Yinusa, a former staff in Mr. Tarfa’s office is the same as Justice M. Yinusa that was said to have received N250, 000 gift from the applicant.
The prosecution counsel, Wahab Shittu opposed the news clauses in the application, arguing that the new evidence was a calculated attempt to misrepresent the earlier affidavit deposed to by Mr. Tarfa.
Mr. Tarfa had approached the court seeking to be awarded N2.5 billion as damages against the anti-graft agency and three others over his arrest and detention in a case involving him and had deposed to affidavits to argue his case.
At the last hearing, Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos adjourned till today Monday, February 29, 2016 for judgment after listening to the submissions of counsel.
In an affidavit by one John Olusegun Odubela, who is the head of Chambers in the firm of Messrs Rickey Tarfa & Co, the senior Lawyer had admitted that the applicant (Mr. Tarfa) gave the sum of Two Hundred and Twenty Five Thousand Naira Only (N225,000) to Justice M.N Yunusa of the Federal High Court.
EFCC Head, Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren in a statement revealed that Tarfa just approached the court for an order granting him leave to re-open and adduce further evidence that Justice. Yunusa mentioned in earlier affidavit is the same person as Mr. Mohammed Awwal Yunusa, a former employee in Tarfa’s chambers, the beneficiary of the N225,000.
The new evidence contradict Mr.Tarfa’s earlier affidavit where in he declared that ’’That it was a common knowledge in legal circles that the Honourable Justice M.N Yunusa lost his father in-law Alhaji Audi Garba Damasa on 28th December 2013 in Maiduguri and travelled there to attend to the funeral rites.
‘’That the applicant and some friends of the Honourable Justice M.N Yunusa made some donations towards the said funeral rites and to commiserate with the Judge since they could not physically go and commiserate with him in Maiduguri where he was and stayed for a while.
‘’That the contributed monies amounted to Two Hundred and Twenty Five Thousand (N225,000) which sum was given to the applicant with the responsibility to get same across to the bereaved Judge.
‘’That the applicant consequently made arrangements to forward the sum of N225,000.
‘’That I know as a fact that it is common in Nigeria for friends and well-wishers to contribute gifts in cash and kind to people who are celebrating or bereaved”.
However, Tarfa according to EFCC has made a U-turn; stating: “That the Applicant did not in paragraphs 35, 36, 37, 38, & 39 of the Applicant’s further affidavit deposed to on 19th February, 2016 stated that the sum of N225,000 was paid to Honourable Justice M. N. Yunusa of this Honourable Court.”… “That the sum of N225,000 was paid to the Applicant’s former staff, M. A.
“Yunusa Esq. and it is necessary to adduce further evidence by allowing the use of further and better affidavit of Mr. Mohammed Awwal Yunusa in support of the application for enforcement of fundamental rights who owns the account that was said to have been owned by Honourable Justice M. N. Yunusa”
In his counter affidavit, the EFCC counsel, Wahab Shittu claims that the grounds upon which the applicant was bringing the application was blatant falsehood and an afterthought.
Mr. Shittu argued that the applicant’s further affidavit deposed to earlier could not be twisted or misrepresented in any way whatsoever.
”That paragraph 10 of the affidavit in support stands logic on its heads and in response thereto paragraphs 37 and 38 of the further affidavit of the applicant showing clearly that the applicant averred that the sum of N225,000 (Two hundred and twenty five Naira) was paid directly to Honourable Justice M. N. Yunusa…He also stated that paragraph 11 of the affidavit in support is blatant falsehood in that the cheque in the sum of N225,000 annexed as exhibit E was the affidavit of one Mohammed Awwal Yunusa dated 23rd Day of February, 2016 is in the name of Mohammed Awwal and not Mohammed Awwal Yunusa.
Mr. Shittu claimed that the applicant’s new position was a gross misrepresentation and an attempt to mislead the court.
He also drew the court attention to the fact that Tarfa repeatedly wrote that he was 43 years in all the pages of his extra-judicial statement with the EFCC whereas A Compendium 3rd Edition of Senior Advocates of Nigeria shows that Tarfa was born on February 23, 1962 making him 54 years.
Justice Idris after listening to the arguments of the two parties adjourned the matter till March 2, 2016 for ruling on the new application.