Justice Adedayo Akintoye of an Igbosere High Court in Lagos State on Friday granted Rickey Tarfa, more time to recuperate from his surgery. Justice Akintoye gave the order following an application by Tarfa’s Counsel, Mr Jelili Owonikoko, praying the court for more time for his client to recuperate.
Tarfa is standing trial on a 26-count charge bordering on offering gratification to two judges of the Federal High Court – Justices Hyeladzira Nganjiwa and Mohammed Yunusa. He is also standing trial for alleged justice perversion. Tarfa had not attended court proceedings since January 21 when he travelled abroad for a medical emergency. He had always stayed inside his vehicle during court proceedings.
According to his counsel, Tarfa was unable to climb the staircase leading to Justice Akintoye’s courtroom, even on a wheelchair because of the severity of his condition. On March 19, Owonikoko filed a medical recommendation from Tarfa’s doctors which stated that the defendant required a minimum of three months medical leave to enable him to recuperate.
On May 31, Tarfa filed another application seeking an extension of his recovery time. But the judge ordered that a medical report on his health from a general or a teaching hospital be provided before the hearing of the application. At the resumed hearing on Friday, Tarfa, who was represented by Mr John Odubela (SAN), said the defendant had carried out the court’s orders.
“We have provided sufficient evidence surrounding the circumstances of the defendant’s, ill health, among other things,” Odubela said. He explained that Tarfa had succumbed to unexpected complications in his recovery, adding that he is going through “so many pains”. He added that the doctor who performed the operation had to be brought back and that the doctor had recommended daily physiotherapy sections.
The council, however, prayed the court to discountenance the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission counsel, Mr U.U. Buhari objection. In her ruling, Justice Akintoye held that having taken all the factors into consideration, “I am inclined to grant the applicant’s prayer.
“The defendant is entitled to be giving adequate time to prepare his defence, which, of course, must be balanced with the prosecution’s right to a reasonable time to conclude its case”. The judge also noted that the lengthy adjournment was “not a stay of proceedings.
“The applicant is expected to appear in court on the next date. He is also hereby ordered to submit a complete medical report from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital.” She adjourned the case until Sept.19, for further hearing. Tarfa was arraigned by the EFCC on March 9, 2016, and subsequently re-arraigned on November 16, 2016, on an amended charge.
The anti-graft agency claimed that between June 27, 2012, and January 8, 2016, Tarfa paid a total of N5.3 million in several tranches into Justice Nganjiwa’s bank account. They have also accused him of paying into Justice Yunusa’s account, N800,000 in three tranches between February 9 and November 30, 2015.
The commission alleged that the payments were to compromise the judges. He was also accused of age falsification. Tarfa pleaded not guilty and was granted bail on self-recognizance. The EFCC has since closed its case, following which Tarfa opened his defence after the court dismissed his no-case submission.