A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Rickey Tarfa, who is currently being accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of bribing Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court with N225,000 has explained why he gave money to the Judge.
Tarfa admitted in an affidavit he filed on Friday, February 19, before a Federal High Court in Lagos, that the money was a contribution by some friends of Mr. Yunusa towards the funeral rites of his father-in-law, Alhaji Audi Damasa.
He maintained that the money was not a bribe but a donation made by some friends of Justice Yunusa to cover part of the funeral of the judge’s father-in-law.
He said, “Contrary to paragraphs 31, 54 and 55 of Moses Awolusi’s (EFCC operative) counter-affidavit, the access to the applicant’s firm’s Access Bank account details was done by the respondents after the arrest and detention of the applicant on 5th February, 2016 without consent and authority of the applicant.
“The applicant (Mr. Tarfa) did not on 7th January, 2014 bribe Honourable Justice M.N. Yunusa with the sum of N225,000 or any other sum at all,” the lawyer stated in the affidavit deposed to by John Odubela, the head of his chambers.
“It was common knowledge in the legal circles that Honourable Justice M.N. Yunusa lost his father-in-law, Alhaji Audi Garba Damasa on the 28th December, 2013 in Maiduguri and travelled there to attend to the funeral rites.
“The applicant and some friends of Honourable Justice M.N. Yunusa made some donations towards the said funeral rites and to commiserate with the judge since they could not physically go and commiserate with him in Maiduguri, where he was and stayed for a while.
“The contributed monies amounted to N225,000, which sum was given to the applicant with the responsibility to get same across to the bereaved judge.
“The applicant consequently made arrangements to forward the sum N225,000.
“I know as a fact that it is common in Nigeria for friends and well-wishers to contribute gifts in cash and kind to people who are celebrating or bereaved.”
Nigeria’s anti-graft agency had alleged that Mr. Tarfa made phone contacts with Mr. Yunusa in a case before the judge.
The EFCC also provided phone numbers of Mr. Tarfa, the judge, and bank documents detailing money transfer from the lawyer to Justice Yunusa.
The Commission had arraigned Mr. Tarfa before a Lagos High Court, last Tuesday, for allegedly obstructing two of its officers from arresting Gnanhooue Sourou and Nazaire Odeste, the owners of Rana Prestige Industries.
In response, Mr. Tarfa filed a N2.5 billion fundamental rights action enforcement suit against the EFCC protesting his arrest and detention by the Commission.