Alleged Judge Bribery : Court Grants Rickey Tarfa 90 Days To Recuperate From Surgery

A Lagos High Court in Igbosere on Friday gave a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Rickey Tarfa, 90 more days to recuperate from surgery.

Rickey Tarfa

Justice Adedayo Akintoye made the order following Tarfa’s application for more time after suffering unexpected complications.

The Silk has been unable to attend his trial for alleged judge bribery since January 21, when he visited Europe following a medical emergency.

He is standing trial on a 26-count charge of offering gratification to two judges of the Federal High Court – Justices Hyeladzira Nganjiwa and Mohammed Yunusa – as well as alleged justice perversion.

Upon his return to Nigeria, Tarfa did not set foot in the courtroom on March 11, 19, May 8 and 31 when the matter came up.

He always stayed downstairs in his car.

According to his counsel, Mr Abiodun Owonikoko SAN, Tarfa was unable to climb the staircase leading to Justice Akintoye’s courtroom, even on a wheelchair, because of the severity of his condition.

On March 19, Owonikoko filed a medical recommendation from Tarfa’s doctors which stated that the defendant required a minimum of three months medical leave to enable him recuperate.

The three months would have elapsed on Wednesday.

On May 31, Tarfa filed an application seeking an extension of his recovery time.

But the judge ordered that she wanted to see a medical report on his health from a general or a teaching hospital before hearing the application.

At the resumption of proceedings yesterday, Tarfa, who was represented by Mr John Odubela SAN, said the defendant had carried out the judge’s instructions.

“We have provided sufficient evidence sorrounding the defendant’s health circumstances,” Odubela said, among other things.

He explained that Tarfa had succumbed to unexpected complications in his recovery process and that he was going through “so much pain” that the doctor who performed the operation had to be flown in.

The doctor, the SAN added,
and he, after attending to Tarfa, recommended that the defendant be visited by a physiotherapist everyday.

He prayed the court to discountenance the opposition of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) counsel, Mr U. U. Buhari and rather, grant Tarfa’s prayers.

“The management of the post surgery is very important. It is a matter of three, four months or thereabout. Only the living can stand trial,” Odubela added.

In her ruling, Justice Akintoye held that having taken all the factors into consideration “I am inclined to grant the applicant’s prayer.

“The defendant is entitled to adequate time to prepare his defence, which, of course, must be balanced with the prosecution’s right to reasonable time conclude his case.”

The judge also noted that the lengthy adjournment was “not a stay of proceedings as suggested by the prosecution.

“The applicant is expected to appear in court on the next date. He is also hereby ordered to submit a complete medical report from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital.”

She adjourned further proceedings till September 19, October 3, and 4.

Tarfa was arraigned by the EFCC on March 9, 2016 and subsequently re-arraigned on November 16, 2016 on an amended charge.

The anti-graft agency claimed that between June 27, 2012 and January 8, 2016, Tarfa paid a total of N5.3 million in several tranches into Justice Nganjiwa’s bank account.

He was also accused of paying into Justice Yunusa’s account, N800,000 in three tranches between February 9 and November 30, 2015.

The commission alleged that the payments were to compromise the judges.

The SAN was equally accused of age falsification.

Tarfa pleaded not guilty and was granted bail on self-recognizance.

The EFCC has since closed its case, following which Tarfa opened his defence after the court dismissed his no-case submission.