A Lagos State High Court judge, Justice Aishat Opesanwo on Tuesday dismissed a preliminary objection filed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Rickey Tarfa and held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has the power to file the charge against him.
Justice Opesanwo in her ruling dismissed Tarfa’s preliminary objection to a charge bordering on obstructing officers of law from carrying out their official duties and attempting to pervert the cause of justice.
Justice Opesanwo held that there was no merit in Tarfa’s application, adding that the argument that the EFCC was the accuser, investigator and judge could not be substantiated.
Tarfa had, in an application filed through his lawyer, Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), argued that the case was an abuse of court process and urged the court to quash the charge and decline jurisdiction.
Owonikoko argued among others that the authority of EFCC to prosecute is limited to economic and financial crimes, which the alleged offences of obstructing officers of law and attempting to perverse the cause of justice were not.
Owonikoko had argued that by virtue of Section 286 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2004, the EFCC could not be a complainant, an investigator and at the same time, a prosecutor.
However, EFCC lawyer, Mr. G. K. Latona, urged the court to disregard the submission of the defence counsel.
He said an existence of a civil appeal does not have any relation with this particular case, adding that the Federal Republic of Nigeria was not a party to the case before the appeal court.
But, Justice Opesanwo in her ruling held that EFCC has “since come to be recognised as an agent of the government, whether State or Federal, such that there is a presumption that it is an agent of government,” it is thus qualified to institute an action on behalf of both.
On the allegation of contacting a judge, Justice Opesanwo ruled that Tarfa “had some explaining to do.”
“The facts require the applicant to explain the legitimacy of his actions. The application is one which I find no merit and must dismiss in totality,” she held.
The EFCC had on February 16, arraigned Rickey Tarfa for allegedly obstructing their officers from carrying out their lawful duty.
In charge No- LD/2417C/16, filed before Justice Aishat Opesanwo, the commission alleged that Tarfa on February 5, 2016 hid two suspects, Nazaire Sorou Gnanhoue and Modeste Finagnon, both Beninoise in his Mercedes Benz Sports Utility Vehicle car, thereby shielding them from arrest and willfully obstructing the cause of justice.