N225,000 Given To Judge Was Not Bribe But Donation – Rickey Tarfa
SAN FRANCISCO, February 19, (THEWILL) – Mr. Rickey Tarfa, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has defended himself over the allegation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that he gave a bribe of N225,000 to Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court, Lagos.
In an affidavit filed before the court, on Friday, and deposed to by the head of his chambers, John Odubela, Tarfa confirmed that he indeed paid N225,000 to Justice Yunusa, but declared that 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, however denied 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.”
“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 5th February, 2016 without consent and authority of the applicant,” the affidavit read.
“That the applicant did not on 7th January, 2014 bribe Honourable Justice M.N. Yunusa with the sum of N225,000 or any other sum at all.
“That it was common knowledge in the legal circles that Honourable Justice M.N. Yunusa lost his father-in-law, Alhaji Audi Garba Damasa on the 28th December, 2013 in Maiduguri and travelled there to attend to the funeral rites.
“That the applicant and some friends of 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 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 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.”
Tarfa was on February 5 arrested by the EFCC for obstructing operatives of the EFCC from arresting two suspects of economic and financial crimes by allegedly hiding the said suspects in his jeep.
He then sued the anti-graft agency to protest his alleged unlawful arrest and detention by the EFCC on the premises of the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere on February with 90 lawyers on his team.
He is seeking a N2.5bn compensation for exemplary and aggravated damages with a public apology occasioned by his alleged unlawful arrest and detention.
The EFCC in a counter-affidavit to the suit filed against by Tarfa, alleged that he bribed Justice Yunusa with N225,000 on January 7, 2014.
After listening to both parties, Justice Idris fixed February 29 for judgment.
Story by David Oputah