The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday amended its 27-count charge against Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Rickey Tarfa before Justice A. A. Akintoye of an Igbosere Magistrates’ Court, Lagos.
The commission re-arraigned Tarfa on a reduced 26 counts bordering on the same offences it preferred against him on March 10, and also substituted Section 38(2) on the charge for Section 39(2) of the EFCC Act, 2004.
However, before his plea was taken, Tarfa’s 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 submitted that the amended charge raised constitutional issues that an accused person should not be charged twice for the same offence.
Owonikoko 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.
But, in his response, EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo argued that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) allows the prosecution to amend a charge at any time before judgment is given.
He urged the court not to allow the defence delay the trial.
In a bench ruling, Justice Akintoye dismissed Tarfar’s objection, adding that there was nothing wrong with the amended charge.
She ordered the registrar to read the amended charge to the defendant.
Tarfa pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Subsequently, the court adjourned the case till November 28, for continuation of trial.
In March, the anti-graft agency accused Tarfa of willful obstruction of its authorised officers, refusal to declare assets, making false information and offering gratification to a public official.
It alleged, among others, that the lawyer offered 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.