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EFCC re-arraigns Rickey Tarfa over age falsification

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Lagos—A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Rickey Tarfa was yesterday re-arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in its amended 27-count charge over alleged falsification of age and offering of gratification to public officer. Tarfa is being tried before Justice A. A. Akintoye of an Igbosere High Court, in Lagos.

The anti-graft agency had on March 10, arraigned Tarfa over alleged charge of willful obstruction of its authorised officers, refusal to declare assets, making false information and offering gratification to a public officer. The agency had also alleged, among others, that the lawyer offered the sum of N5.3million gratification to Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court, in order to compromise the judge. The commission claimed that Tarfa transferred the money in several tranches to Justice Nganjiwa between June 27, 2012 and December 23, 2014. At the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday EFCC, re-arraigned Tarfa in an amended 26 count charge bordering on the same offences it proferred against him before the same judge on March 10, and also substituted Section 38(2) on the charge for Section 39(2) of EFCC Act, 2004. Before the SAN’s plea was taken, his lawyer, Abiodun Owonikoko SAN objected to the reading of the amended charge on the ground that it will overreach the decision of the Court of Appeal, Lagos. Owonikoko argued that the Court of Appeal will on January 19, hear the appeal filed against the ruling of the Court. He also submitted that the amended charge raised constitutional issues that an accused person should not be charged twice for the same offence. Owonikoko further argued that the amended charge is a violation of Section 39(9) of the Constitution which prohibits a prosecutor from arraigning a defendant twice for the same offence. While responding to the defence counsel’s submission, the EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo argued that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act allows the prosecution to amend a charge at any time before judgment is given. He however urged the court not to allow the defence delay the trial. In a short ruling, Justice Akintoye dismissed Tarfa’s objection stating that there was nothing wrong with the amended charge. She ordered the court registrar to read the amended charge to the defendant. Tarfa pleaded not guilty to the charge. Consequently, the Judge adjourned the case till November 28, for continuation of trial.
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