Court Refuses Tarfa’s Claims to Violation of Rights by EFCC

Ricky Tarfa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has lost his bid, seeking the declaration that his arrest and detention by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the
claims that he (Tarfa) obstructed the course of justice. The court said the suit was misplaced.
Justice Mohammed Idris upheld EFCC’s preliminary objection to Tarfa’s N2.5billion suit. He ordered a stay of proceedings until Tarfa’s trial at the Lagos State High Court is concluded.
According to him, a substantial part of the reliefs Tarfa sought have a direct bearing on the charge against him.
He said Tarfa’s vehicle and phones, which the SAN prayed the court to order their release, had been listed as exhibits in the criminal case.
“Also, it is clear that the information and data retrieved from the mobile handsets are to be used as evidence in the criminal charge pending before the Lagos High Court,” the Judge said.
Tarfa had filed the N2.5bn suit seeking a declaration that his arrest and detention by the EFCC on February 5, 2016 was a violation of his fundamental rights.
He had urged the court to order the immediately release of his two mobile phones and Mercedez Benz SUV with Registration No. KJA 700 CG confiscated by the EFCC.
However, in a ruling, Justice Idris refused Tarfa’s prayers, saying the criminal case filed against him by the EFCC before Justice Aishat Opesanwo of a Lagos State High Court in Lagos had yet to be determined.
The judge noted since Tarfa’s two mobile phones and jeep had been registered as exhibits in the criminal case before Justice Opesanwo, it would be against the interest of justice to order the EFCC to release them to him.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the substantial part of the reliefs sought herein do have a direct bearing on the charge pending at the Lagos High Court.
“It is clear from the evidence before the court that the applicant’s mobile handset and SUV have been registered as exhibits to be tendered at the criminal proceedings. Also, the information and data retrieved from the mobile handset are to be used as evidence in the criminal charge at the Lagos High Court.
“There is a potential injustice that may befall the defendant in the prosecution of the criminal charge if this suit were to proceed to judgment and judgment were for instance, given in favour of the applicant. There is a strong possibility that it will signal the end of the criminal charge at the Lagos High Court.
“This court should not make orders that will strike violently at the heart of the criminal charge now pending at the Lagos High Court.
“For the above reasons, I am of the view that in the light of the peculiar circumstances of this case which is unprecedented, this is a proper case which proceedings should be stayed pending the hearing of the criminal charge at the Lagos High Court.”
Justice Idris said if a court considered that an exhibit was important to a case filed before it, the court would admit the exhibit even if it was obtained in contravention of the law.EFCC had on February 5 arrested Tarfa on the premises of the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere on the claim that the senior advocate hid two suspects of economic and financial crimes in his jeep to prevent their arrest.
Justice Idris said although Tarfa has the guaranteed right to be heard fairly and expeditiously, his fundamental rights suit does not supersede the criminal charge.
“It should be noted that this right does not stand above the country, the state or the people,” the Judge said.
Justice added that it would not be fair to the prosecution should Tarfa’s suit be decided in his favour before the criminal case is determined.

Author: News Editor

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