By Chinyere Omeire
Lagos – The absence of Justice Adedayo Akintoye of an Igbosere High Court in Lagos, on Monday, stalled the trial of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Rickey Tarfa (SAN), on allegation of alleged perversion of the course of justice.
Akintoye was away on an official duty.
The court consequently adjourned the hearing until March 19.
Tarfa is standing trial on a 26-count charge bordering on offering monetary gratification to two judges of the Federal High Court – Justices Hyeladzira Nganjiwa and Mohammed Yunusa, respectively.
EFCC in its charge alleged that Tarfa had between June 27, 2012 and Jan. 8, 2016, Tarfa paid N5.3 million in several tranches into Justice Nganjiwa’s account.
The anti-graft agency also accused the defendant of paying into Justice Yunusa’s account, a total of N800,000 in three tranches between Feb. 9 and Nov. 30, 2015.
The agency further accused the defendant of age falsification.
Upon his arraignment on March 9, 2016 and subsequent re-arraignment on Nov. 16, 2016, Tarfa pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail on self recognizance.
Though EFCC has closed its case, the court dismissed Tarfa’s no case-submission application.
NAN also reports that Tarfa’s first witness, Deputy Chief Registrar (DCR)of the Federal High Court in Lagos, Mr Bello Okandeji, is yet to finish his cross-examination.
NAN reports that the trial on the last adjourned date, Jan. 21, suffered a set back because of the absence of the defendant, Tarfa.
Tarfa’s counsel, Mr Jelili Owonikoko, had told the court that his client traveled outside the country for medical treatment.
Owonikoko, who informed the court that Tarfa would be away for three months, said his failing health condition urgently needed medical attention abroad.
Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel for the EFCC , affirmed receipt of a medical report and a letter from the defendant in which he had requested for adjournment date.
He, however, said that the defendant should have come to court to apply for leave to travel before embarking on such a trip.
Justice Akintoye, however, who granted the request, had asked the defence counsel to ensure his client appeared in court on the next adjourned date.
At the resumed hearing on Monday, the court did not sit apparently because of the ongoing Judges’ conference.