Rights Enforcement Suit: Court Allows Fresh Evidence Of Rickey Tarfa

Rickey-TarfaA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has allowed a Senior Nigerian lawyer, Rickey Tarfa, to file additional evidence in support of his fundamental rights enforcement suit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Mohammed Idris on Wednesday, said that the EFCC would suffer no injury if Mr Tarfa’s “further and better affidavit” was allowed, stressing that it would better serve the interest of justice to allow the document.

Mr Tarfa had filed the additional evidence in opposition to an allegation by the EFCC that he offered a bribe of 225,000 Naira to Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court.

In the fresh evidence, a former member of  Tarfa’s law firm, one Mohammed Awal Yunusa, claimed to be the owner of an Access Bank account, which the EFCC had alleged belongs to Justice Yunusa.

The lawyer had earlier admitted that he and some friends donated the money to the judge for the burial of his father-in-law.

The EFCC’s counsel, Wahab Shittu, had opposed the fresh evidence, insisting it was an afterthought.

Justice Idris had ruled in Mr Tarfa’s favour on the grounds that a party should be allowed to bring any evidence or material that would aid his case.

Mr Tarfa had approached the court asking it to award him the sum of 2.5 billion Naira as damages against the EFCC over his unlawful arrest and detention.

Joined as defendants are: the Commission’s acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC operatives that arrested him, Moses Awolusi, and the Deputy Director Operations, EFCC, Lagos office, Iliyasu Kwarbai.

Apart from the monetary compensation, Tarfa also asked the court to compel the defendants to release his two mobile handsets allegedly collected from him on Friday, February, 5.

He stated that the EFCC intended to destroy all information, data and other retrievable materials stored in the two handsets.

Mr Tarfa also sought an order urging the court to direct the defendants to release his Mercedes Benz SUV with registration Number, KJA 700CG unlawfully seized from him.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also asked the court to order the EFCC, Magu and the other defendants to publicly apologise to him in at least two widely circulated national newspapers, on social media and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) as well as Channels Television within 24 hours from the day of the judgment of the suit.

He asked for an order of perpetual injunction restraining all the defendants and their agents from further violating his rights.

Hearing of the application has been fixed for Thursday, March 3.

Appeal Court Reserves Judgment On Honeywell, Ecobank Dispute

HoneywellA Court of Appeal in Lagos has reserved judgment in the appeal filed by Honeywell Group, asking the court to vacate an order limiting its financial transaction.

The appellate court also reserved for judgment, Ecobank’s cross appeal bordering on the same subject matter.

Justice Mohammed Yunusa of a Federal High Court in Lagos had on December 14, 2015, issued the interim order in a suit between Ecobank Plc and Honeywell Group.

The suit was sequel to an alleged 3.5billion Naira unpaid loan facility granted by Ecobank to Honeywell.

Justice Yunusa had issued an interim order, limiting Honeywell to 15 million Naira weekly withdrawals from the company’s account.

Dissatisfied with the decision, Honeywell appealed and asked the court to set aside the interim order.

At the hearing of the appeal on Monday, the three-man panel of justices presided over by Justice Sidi Bage reserved judgment after lawyers in the matter adopted their briefs of arguments.

Rickey Tarfa Denies Bribery Allegation

Rickey-TarfaA Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Rickey Tarfa, has told a Federal High Court in Lagos that it’s not true he gave a bribe of 225,000 Naira to Justice Mohammed Yunusa.

The senior lawyer said that it was common knowledge in legal circles that Justice Yinusa lost his father in-law, Garba Damasa, on 28 December, 2013 in Maiduguri.

He said that the donation, which was made on January 7, 2014, was made by some friends of the judge towards the funeral rites of the judge’s Father in-law.

Mr Tarfa is challenging his unlawful arrest & detention by the EFCC, an incident which happened on February 5 at the premises of the Lagos High Court in Igbosere an area in Lagos Island.

He is seeking 2.5 billion Naira as compensation for exemplary and aggravated damages as well as a public apology from the anti-graft agency.

After adopting the substantive application, the supporting affidavit and other documents in the case, Mr Ayorinde urged the court to rule in his clients favour

But the prosecuting counsel, Wahab Shittu, asked the court to dismiss the suit for lack of merit or in the alternative stay further proceedings pending the determination of the criminal charge against the applicant at the Lagos High Court.

He argued that the facts and circumstances of the case which arose from the incidence of February 5, has resulted in a criminal action.

Obstructing the EFCC from carrying out its statutory duties, according to the lawyer, is an Offence punishable with a minimum of five years imprisonment going by the EFCC Act.

After listening to the arguments, Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned the case till February 29 for his ruling.

Court Fails To Give Judgment In Stella Oduah’s Case

Stella-Oduah-SenatorA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has again failed to deliver judgment in the suit filed by a former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, seeking the enforcement of her fundamental rights.

Justice Okon Abang, who has been transferred to the Abuja division of the court, was in Lagos but he informed parties that the judgment was not ready owing to the workload of the court.

He, therefore, adjourned the judgment till February 17, pointing out that the 90 days stipulated for delivery of the judgment had not elapsed.

The applicant, Mrs Stella Oduah, who is also a Senator, had filed the suit in August, 2015, seeking the enforcement of her fundamental rights as guaranteed under the constitution.

In the suit, Mrs Oduah asked the court to make an order, restraining the respondents from probing her over the purchase of two armoured BMW by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority under her watch in 2013.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Inspector General of Police are joined as respondents in the suit.

Mrs Oduah contends that the respondents had planned to unleash repression on her, and try her on trumped up charges.

She asked the court to restrain the respondents from persecuting and humiliating her, under the guise of an anti-graft war.

On August 26, 2015, during the court’s vacation, the vacation judge, Justice Mohammed Yunusa, issued an order of interim injunction, restraining the respondents and defendants from taking any action pending the final determination of the suit.

Meanwhile, the AGF and EFCC had in a counter affidavit, urged the court to dismiss the applicant’s suit for lack of merit.

They described the applicant’s claims as baseless and speculative, arguing that the claims could not be justified.

On December 1, 2015, Justice Abang adjourned the case for judgment, after lawyers representing the parties adopted their written addresses before the court.

Money Laundering Trial: Nnamani Seeks Adjournment on Health Grounds

Chimaroke-Nnamani 400x300The Former Governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, has urged a Federal High Court in Lagos to put his trial on hold, to enable him recover from an open heart surgery.

Mr Nnamani, who is standing trial for allegedly laundering about N5billion belonging to the state, told the court that he was unfit to go through the rigours of trial, because he had just undergone a Quadruple by-pass (open heart surgery), which had recently caused him chronic chest pains.

The former Governor was arraigned before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside seven others, on a 105 count charge of Conspiracy, Forgery and Money laundering.

The other accused persons are: Sunday Anyaogu, Rainbownet (Nig) Ltd, Hillgate (Nig) Ltd, Cosmos FM, Capital City Automobile (Nig) Ltd, Renaissance University Teaching Hospital and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School.

They had all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

At the resumed hearing of the protracted case on Tuesday, Counsel to Mr Nnamani, Oluyele Delano, asked the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Yunusa, for another adjournment, on the basis of the ill health of his client.

He argued that although the surgery was a relative success, his client has had to embark on a slow and tedious recovery process.

Mr Delano also informed the court that a recent medical analysis suggested that the accused’s chronic chest pain, might be as a result of his body’s non tolerance to the “pace maker” which had been installed in his heart.

The lawyer further submitted that it was important for his client to be in good health, so as to be able to vigorously defend the criminal allegations levelled against him by the EFCC. He insisted that a corpse cannot stand trial.

Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Kelvin Uzozie, has, however, asked the court to refuse the request for an adjournment. He argued that the only condition that could necessitate the adjournment was, if the accused person was not capable of understanding court proceedings because of his illness.

Mrs Uzozie urged Justice Yunusa to exercise his discretion judiciously in determining whether or not to grant the adjournment, as he reminded the court that the case had lingered since 2007.

In a short ruling, the judge held that ill health was an important issue in any criminal trial; especially where the organ affected was the heart.

The judge also noted that a physical assessment of the accused person showed that he was unfit to stand trial. He concluded that the law was not intended to cause more harm to an accused person.

Justice Yunusa has therefore adjourned the case to November 3 for trial, to afford the former governor ample time to fully recover from his surgery.

Fraud: Court Grants Briton, Former Banker N200m Bail Each

A Federal High Court in Lagos granted bail in the sum of N200 million each to two persons, a British citizen, Gareth Wilcox and Johnson Adebami, charged with N15 billion fraud, on Monday.

The accused persons were alleged to have obtained over 15 billion naira from the defunct Gulf Bank Plc, without appropriate accounting records, under the guise of granting loans and overdraft facilities to various companies. They allegedly converted and appropriated a total of 55.3 million dollars and over 3.7 billion naira belonging to the said bank.

Mr Wilcox, a former Managing Director of Ibom Power Company and LYK Engineering Company, is standing trial alongside Adebami, a former Managing Director of the defunct Gulf Bank Plc, on a 21-count charge bordering on alleged fraud.

According to the prosecution, the offences contravened the provisions of Section 390 of the Criminal Code, Cap A6, Laws of the Federation, 2006.

Also, former legal adviser to all three companies involved, Uche Uwechia, is standing trial alongside the other two.

Ruling on the bail application, the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Yunusa, granted Wilcox and Adebami bail in the sum of N200 million each, with two sureties each in like sum. The sureties must possess landed property within the jurisdiction of the court and they must present two years tax clearance certificate as well as depose to an affidavit of means.

In addition, Wilcox and Adebami must deposit their international passports with the court alongside an undertaking not to travel out of the country, until the case has been determined. However, the judge granted Uwechia bail in the sum of N100 million with two sureties in like sum. The sureties must also possess landed property within the court’s jurisdiction, and present two years tax clearance certificate.

Uwechia was ordered to deposit his passport with the court, and must ensure that he does not leave the country, until February 26, 2014 the adjourned date for the trial.

The accused who pleaded not guilty to all charges levelled against them were remanded in the custody of the Special Anti-Fraud Unit, pending the determination of their bail.