We Have Video Evidence To Nail Tarfa – EFCC

 We Have Video Evidence To Nail Tarfa – EFCC

EFCC1The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday told a Lagos State High Court sitting in Igbosere, that it had electronic evidence to convict Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Rickey Tarfa on the charge of failure to declare his assets.
Tarfa was arraigned on March 9, before Justice A. A. Akintoye on a 27-count charge, including ‎refusal to declare his assets, making false statements, offering gratification to a public officer and failure to declare his assets in the Assets Declaration Form.
This suit is different from a two-count charge of obstructing officers of law from carrying out their official duties and attempting to pervert the course of justice, also filed against him by the EFCC, but before Justice Aishat Opesanwo.
At the resumed hearing yesterday, EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the commission had enough evidence including a video recording of Tarfa’s allegedly incriminating conduct at the EFCC office.
He said that the embattled SAN was placed under electronic surveillance when he twice declared a wrong age in the age declaration form and when he refused to declare his assets in the Assets Declaration Form.
“We have electronic evidence of the defendant’s conduct. We are keeping our gunpowder dry while waiting for the trial to begin,” Oyedepo said
The EFCC counsel made this submission while opposing an application by defence counsel, Anthony Idigbe SAN, to quash the charge against Tarfa for lack of jurisdiction among others.
The commission filed a 12 paragraph counter-affidavit sworn to by Moses Awolusi, an operative of the agency as well as a written address dated March 21, and urged the court to discountenance all the prayers of the applicant.
Oyedepo cited a plethora of authorities to back his submissions and said Section 27 of the EFCC Act empowered the commission to investigate and prosecute the defendant for the alleged offences.
He added that the action of the anti-graft agency was not in any way a contravention of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
Besides he said he would also be relying on the record of the court on March 9, 2016, in which the court ordered the registrar to read and explain the charge to the defendant, to which he said he understood and pleaded not guilty.
Again, he said the agency did not need the fiat of the Lagos State Attorney-General before he could prosecute the defendant because the agency is an independent commission empowered to investigate and prosecute any offence related to economic and financial crimes.
On the issue of declaration of assets, Oyedepo argued that Tarfa was investigated for offering gratification to a public officer, “therefore the Act imposed a duty on him to declare his assets”.
Tarfa, who was represented by several lawyers including four had earlier argued, through Idigbe, that the EFCC could not be a complainant, investigator, as well as a prosecutor in the case.
Idigbe said: “We submit that this is contrary to natural justice, equity and good conscience. This is also in breach of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which requires that every citizen should have fair hearing, in order to guarantee the independence and impartially in every proceeding.
“The procedure that such charge should get the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP)’s advice was not followed.”
Idigbe also stated that Sections 172 and 209 makes a provision for compulsory declaration of assets by public officials, but that Tarfa “is not a public official. The charge respecting that cannot be sustained.”
On his client’s refusal declare his assets Idigbe stated that was the state’s duty to prove its case and that Tarfa had no obligation to provide any fact to an investigator.
“Any law which compulsorily asks a suspect to declare his assets must conflict with his right to remain silent,” he said.
Idigbe also accused the commission of duplicity and ambiguity, saying counts one to 27 were mere duplications. The charges, he added, did not disclose when and where the alleged offences were committed, while page 13 was signed by an Assistant Detective Commander rather than a legal officer.
Justice Akintoye adjourned till April 22, for ruling.

LTV

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