A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday threw out an application by a prominent lawyer, Ricky Tarfa, SAN, seeking to stop the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from prosecuting him.
The EFCC had on February 8 slammed a two-count charge on the senior lawyer bordering on unlawful obstruction of investigation and perversion of the course of justice before Justice Aishat Opesanwo of the Lagos State High Court, Igbosere.
Mr. Tarfa, who was arrested on February 5 by EFCC operatives for allegedly hiding two suspects – Nazaire Sorou Gnanhoue and Modeste Finagnon – in his Sports Utility Vehicle, SUV, with the intent of shielding them from being re-arrested, had gone to court seeking to stop his prosecution by the EFCC.
No fewer than 34 SANs enlisted to represent Tarfa, but only six of them were in court on Friday, namely Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, Dr. Joseph Nwobike, Mr. Babajide Koku, Mr. Abiodun Owonikoko, Mr. Adeniyi Adegbonmire and Mrs. Abimbola Akeredolu.
The lawyers also brought an application praying the court to order the release of Tarfa’s phone and vehicle, which were allegedly seized by EFCC.
Tarfa also filed a N2.5billion suit against the EFCC on February 9, seeking the enforcement of his fundamental rights.
But EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed the application, saying such an order would restrain the EFCC from arraigning Tarfa.
”I will urge Your Lordship not to hearken to that prayer. As of today, the applicant before Your Lordship is to be arraigned before your learned brother Honourable Justice Opesanwo of the Lagos State High Court next week Thursday. The defendant has been notified to produce the applicant on that date.
“If Your Lordship makes an order to maintain the status quo, then the honourable court would be crippling the defendant from arraigning the applicant”, Oyedepo argued.
The prosecution lawyer also said Ayorinde’s application was designed to frustrate Tarfa’s arraignment.
The court, however, threw out the application, thus paving the way for his prosecution by the EFCC.
Justice Mohammed Idris held that he lacks jurisdiction to stop the EFCC from arraigning Mr. Tarfa but cautioned the anti-graft agency against abusing the fundamental human rights of the senior lawyer.