By Onozure Dania
Lagos- Justice Adedayo Akintoye of a Lagos High Court sitting at Igbosere yesterday dismissed the no case submission made by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Rickey Tarfa over alleged gratification.
Justice Akintoye held that the prosecution – Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) – had established essential elements of the offences it filed against Tarfa.
She held that the justice of the case thus required that the court should demand some explanation from the defendant in respect of the charge.
The judge then ordered Tarfa to enter his defence on the next adjourned date, fixed for March 13, 2018.
Justice Akintoye also dismissed a claim filed by the senior lawyer asking for N520 million from the anti- graft agency as damages for alleged malicious prosecution.
The judge described it as unmeritorious.
EFCC had on March 10, 2016, arraigned Tarfa, on a 27-counts charge which was subsequently amended to 26 counts.
He was accused of alleged wilful obstruction of authorised EFCC officials, refusal to declare assets and giving false information to a public officer, by lying about his age.
The commission also alleged, among others, that the SAN, offered N5.3million gratification to Justice Nganjiwa in order to compromise the judge. Tarfa however pleaded not guilty to the charge.
At the last adjourned date on January 17, Tarfa, through his counsel, Abiodun Owonikoko, SAN, made a no-case submission urging the court to dismiss the charge because it was malicious.
He prayed the court to make an example of the anti-graft agency and “slam the hammer” on it with a N500millon damages award.
“The specific ingredients were not proven. It is not as if the prosecution did not make an attempt, but that the attempt was so woeful,” Owonikoko submitted.
But EFCC counsel Mr Rotimi Oyedepo objected to Tarfa’s no-case submission, “because it amounts to contesting the obvious.”
According to Oyedepo, Tarfa misconstrued the no-case submission.
He said: “The prosecution is not expected to establish the guilt of the defendant, only to show that there is a prima facie case against the defendant.”
However, in her ruling yesterday, Justice Akintoye upheld the prosecution’s argument that a prima facie case had been established against the defendant.
The judge said: “What is expected of this court at this stage of no case submission is to look at the evidence adduced so far and determine whether a prima facie case has been disclosed against the defendant.
“At this stage also the prosecution is not required to have established its case beyond reasonable doubt against the defendant as the guilt of the defendant is not in issue at this stage.
“I have carefully evaluated the evidence so far, with the totality of evidence adduced before this honourable court, it is my opinion that the prosecution has established the essential elements of the alleged offences with which the defendant is charged.
Justice Akintoye also ruled that: “The evidence of the prosecution witnesses has not been discredited by the cross- examination of the defence counsel to the extent that no reasonable tribunal will simply convict based on it.
“I therefore hold that a prima facie case of failing and refusing to declare his assets, making false information to an officer of the EFCC, and offering gratification to a public official as stated in the amended information filed before this court has been made against the defendant.
“Therefore the defendant is called upon to enter his defence and the no case submission filed on his behalf is hereby dismissed.”
She added: “With regard to the defendant/applicant’s claim for exemplary damages for malicious prosecution against the EFCC, I find no merit in this claim of N520 million damages and same is hereby refused.”