A Lagos State High Court in Igbosere, yesterday assumed jurisdiction to entertain a 27-count charge against embattled Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Rickey Tarfa, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice A.A. Akintoye dismissed Tarfa’s preliminary objection, filed through his counsel Mr Anthony Idigbe (SAN), urging it to quash the charge and decline jurisdiction.
Tarfa was arraigned on March 9, on a charge of refusal to declare assets, making false statements, offering gratification to a public officer and failure to declare his assets.
At the resumed hearing yesterday, Justice Akintoye, refused the defendant’s prayers but reserved her decision till the end of trial on the prayer to declare that falsification of age was not an offence known to law.
The judge said that the EFCC had the power to investigate and prosecute Tarfa.
“On the issue of the charge being an abuse of court process as argued by the accused, I hold that the information contained in the charge before me is different from the one before my learned brother.
“In that charge what the accused is charged with, is obstructing EFCC officials from effecting their lawful duties.
“I therefore hold that the information in this charge is not an abuse of court process,” she held.
The judge also ruled that the Commission had the power to ask the defendant to declare his assets anytime, whether upon arrest or later, so far the offences charged were related to financial crimes.
The offence of gratification of a public officer which the defendant was charged with, falls under the powers of the EFCC, she added.
“It is my opinion that the information disclosed a prima facie case which established that the accused has a case to answer as alleged by the charge.
“The court will not restrain a statutory body from performing it’s statutory duties in respect of anyone.
“I hold that this court has jurisdiction to entertain this charge, the subject matter is within the jurisdiction of this court.
“I refuse the prayer to quash this charge and I refuse the prayer to restrain the EFCC from investigating or prosecuting the accused,” Akintoye said.
The case was adjourned till May 20 for commencement of trial and May 27 for further hearing.