Mr. Rickey Tarfa,SAN has said the allegation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) that he bribed Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court with N225,000 is untrue. The Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN) disclosed this in a further affidavit filed on Friday before the court and deposed to by the head of his chambers, John Odubela. Recall the anti-graft agency had in a counter-affidavit to a N2.5bn fundamental rights enforcement suit filed against it by Tarfa, alleged that he bribed Justice Yunusa with N225, 000 on January 7, 2014.
According to Odubela, it was true that Tarfa sent N225,000 to Justice Yunusa as EFCC had said, but the money was not a bribe but a donation made by some friends of Justice Yunusa towards the funeral rites of his father-in-law, Alhaji Audi Damasa. Tarfa, through Odubela, also described as untrue the claim by the EFCC that Justice Yunusa acknowledged the receipt of the alleged bribe by a text message which read, “Thank you, my senior advocate.”
Odubela said, “Contrary to paragraphs 31, 54 and 55 of Moses Awolusi’s (EFCC operative) counter-affidavit, the access to the applicant’s firm’s Access Bank account details was done by the respondents after the arrest and detention of the applicant on February 5, 2016 without consent and authority of the applicant. That the applicant did not, January 7, 2014, bribe Justice M.N. Yunusa with N225,000 or any other sum at all.That it was common knowledge in the legal circles that Justice M.N. Yunusa lost his father-in-law, Alhaji Audi Garba Damasa on December 28, 2013 in Maiduguri and travelled there to attend to the funeral rites.”
Tarfa, who is being represented by no fewer than 34 Senior Advocates of Nigeria, led by Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), has sued the EFCC to protest his alleged unlawful arrest and detention by the commission on the premises of the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere. He is seeking N2.5bn as compensation for exemplary and aggravated damages as well as a public apology occasioned by his alleged unlawful arrest and detention.
Meanwhile the EFCC, through its lawyer, Mr. Wahab Shittu, however urged the court to dismiss Tarfa’s suit with a “substantive punitive cost for lacking in merit.” In Shittu’s words, “Exemplary and aggravated damages can only be granted if it is established that the action of the respondents is high-handed; the applicant has to also show that the action of the respondent is wanton. But in this case, it is clear that the respondents were carrying out their statutory duty.” Justice Idris has fixed the judgement for 29th February 2016.