By Louis Odion
Nigerians will never stop to shock and awe with their prodigious ingenuity. Just when those engaged in the restricted field of psychology were about to give up having spent donkey years looking for how best to illustrate the rather complicated term “emotional intelligence”, the least expected man miraculously brought a closure to the centuries-old dilemma in a fashion not even Sigmund Freud, the acclaimed patriarch of psychology, could have contemplated or anticipated.
Some clarity at this juncture. Emotion is not to be mistaken for intelligence. But, mind you, the admixture of both is a powerful brew indeed. Given its intangibility, therefore, researchers are (or were as now more appropriately) at pains relating the phenomena to ignoramuses, the uninitiated. Certainly not a matter that readily yielded itself to tape-rule measure or pencil-and-paper test.
Whereas high intelligence quotient (IQ) may earn you laurels in academic circles, a leader needs higher emotional aptitude to be successful. “Emotional intelligence” is what will, for instance, restrain an able-bodied fellow from openly counting his 10 fingers or toes in the presence of an amputee. That oracular ability that enables you sense a need and predisposes you to give your own widow’s mite long before the fellow in need is even able to find the word to express himself or herself.
So, who is that illustrious compatriot that abridged the ordinarily vast labyrinth of scientific enquiry to put Nigeria on the world map of psycho-analysis? He is no other than Ricky Tarfa, a Senior Advocate at the Nigerian bar.
And more good news: insiders have confided in this writer that in what looks like a reenactment of the gold rush, not a few big international corporations have been bombarding Nigerian embassies in the west with enquiries on how soon they could collaborate with this game-changer to have this very practical and demonstrable concept quickly patented and entered into the twenty-first century’s trove of discoveries/inventions before Chinese imitators beat them to it.
Futuristically speaking, by the time the US dollar starts tumbling in in humongous waves as royalties, we can only hope the nation will still remember to give honour to whom it is originally due. Imagine how far that would then go in catapulting the now beleaguered Naira back to the same pedestal as the much-cherished American dollar.
But how exactly did Tarfa pull off this golden feat? Very simple, ironically. Without being solicited, or maybe at the mere receipt of obituary notification or its whisper from the grapevine, our own trail-blazing Senior Advocate instantly took it upon himself to cause, with dazing alacrity, the electronic transfer of a staggering N225k (more than $1,100 by CBN rate) to a member of the presently famishing judiciary in the person of his lordship, Justice M N Yunusa of the Lagos Federal Court. (So trying have the times become that The Nation newspaper, ordinarily sympathetic to the ruling party in Abuja, was sufficiently moved to confirm in a front-page report on Wednesday that the Chief Justice of the Federation and no fewer than 600 judges were yet to receive January salaries, much less dream of February’s even as the month ends in another 72 hours! And followed up with a blistering editorial).
But wait for the mother of all shockers. Just when admirers and well-wishers were about to pop the first bottle of champagne in toasting Tarfa came a report three days ago that, contrary to an affidavit this distinguished innovator earlier reportedly deposed to and duly signed with his own fountain pen, the said N225k was em, em, em actually paid to another M. A. Yunusa! The “affidavit of urgency” rushed in Tuesday now wants us to believe the latter is, in reality, a former employee of his chambers. A complete reversal of the affidavit earlier tendered in court where Tarfa admitted donating N225k to Justice Yunusa for his in-law’s burial.
The puzzle: could the senior lawyer have possibly lied against himself in the first affidavit? Since we are still unprepared to be joined as accessory after the fact of perjury, since we laymen are yet unsure which of the conflicting affidavits the court will eventually prefer to believe, we are, therefore, left with no option than to err on the side of caution by sticking to the original affidavit; the content of which provided the theoretical foundation of the “emotional intelligence” that has brought Tarfa global acclaim and for which he is being justifiably celebrated on this page today. As a mark of charity to him, it is only fair then to dismiss those already labeling the second affidavit an afterthought as incurably suffering from malicious envy.
For those who may not have taken notice, what made Tarfa’s gesture to Yunusa (as stated in the first affidavit) so exemplary, in fact worthy of the next Nobel Peace Prize, was that it was, in the first place, quietly done without any form of ostentation as to raise a single eyebrow, much less elicit any public applause for that matter. To say nothing of the touch of poetry around this very figure itself. 225 is not a regular number, mind you. That, in fact, is what further marks this generosity out as a profile in self-effacement. A more showy giver would have fallen for the bait of a round figure, thereby creating room for eyebrows to be raised.
Note: it was not until EFCC, obviously out of what could only be envy or malice or both, began to retail the lie that the transferred cash was part of a cocktail designed to induce the judge (who incidentally was sitting over a case the donor had interest) that Tarfa, at great pains, had no other choice than to break his age-old rule of anonymity by making this donation public. But for EFCC mounting the rooftop to announce, in fact brandishing his cellphone call-log as well as bank statement showing the cash trail, who would have known that beyond being superb in law, the Senior Advocate is no less enigmatic in the area of quiet philanthropy.
Well, many saw this sort of unsightly drama coming the moment grandees like Itse Sagay, either out if idleness in retirement or pure envy of the financial status of younger colleagues, began to belly-ache. By suggesting that the judiciary has turned a den of fixers, charlatans and crooks. In what appears to be the unimpeachable evidence of envy, hear what Sagay, a SAN, said:
“When we talk of the judiciary, we’re talking of judges. As far as I’m concerned, the judiciary is not the most blameworthy… The most blameworthy are senior lawyers – a number of senior advocates who have made it a specialty; who have developed particular skills to kill corruption cases so that their clients, after many years of delays and frustrations of prosecution, end up going away with their loot. And such lawyers, of course, share in the proceeds of crime.
“They get a part of the loot and that is why you see them buying private jets and so on. That amount of money from the proceeds of crime has completely blunted their consciences and they’re as active as the accused persons – the looters – in trying to protect the loot because part of the loot now belongs to them by association.”
He thereafter went personal: “What I’m saying, therefore, is that this is where it starts. These are the people who carry huge sums of money behind chambers to judges. They’re the ones who corrupt judges. Really, if the struggle is going to be effective, we have to mark down the lawyers who are behind all these, not just judges. In fact, there are some retired judges too that are in the game.
“They are called consultants and they carry huge sums of money to their juniors they left behind in the judiciary and use their influence to get them to simply abandon justice and do the bidding of corrupt persons. It’s a very serious situation. But, as I said, the very first port of call would be the lawyers that are behind it. Right now, they are doing it without control; they are doing it without consequences.”
How more recklessly petulant can anyone be!
Well, the cash transfer of N225k at issue, as Tarfa already solemnly declared in the first affidavit to silence mischief-makers raking for muck, was only a form of subsidy for Justice Yunusa to meet burial expenses. And in the solemnity of that avowal, it is quite easy to feel Tarfa’s great discomfort at being made to face public scrutiny over what was only intended to be a quiet act of kindness.
> Now, to pose a more pertinent question: what is money meant for, if not to bring succor to those in need? What better way is there to help a grieving lordship cushion the funeral pain than remove the worries of naira and kobo. Remove money worries, life and living become pleasure. That way, even his lordship is able to think straight and be of more use not only to himself but also the judiciary as a critical branch of government. That precisely is “emotional intelligence” in action, “proactive thinking” as its best, for which Tarfa clearly deserves to be celebrated, not crucified.
So callous, EFCC even went further by sensationally revealing the judge appreciatively confirmed receipt via text as well. Well, “thank you” has variants. Since EFCC has chosen to be a busybody here, then it has more explaining to do. Any hint this “thank you” was uttered with a coy smile, therefore suggesting anything untidy other than what the Good Samaritan already stated?
As if that cut was not unkind enough, EFCC went further to accuse Tarfa of another felony: literally offering sanctuary to two absconding Beninoise suspects against whom the anti-graft had mounted a hot pursuit. They include Nazaire Gnahouse and Senoue Modeste, accused of fraudulently converting assets belonging to Rana Prestige Nigeria Limited to personal use.
Outside the court that fateful day, Tarfa allegedly kept them “refrigerated” inside his SUV from noon to 5P.M, while EFCC’s panting Rottweilers kept vigil a few meters away. And when the vehicle ran out gas, a keg of petrol was reportedly procured from a street hawker near-by and the automobile’s tank manually refilled.
If true, what else would that be if not another demonstration of “emotional intelligence”? Again, note this: the accused, who must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise by a competent court, are not just ordinary persons. They are foreigners to whom all diplomatic courtesies must be extended according to the letter and spirit of international law. So, in all honesty, what then is the crime in shielding them against EFCC Rottweilers who, by the way, no one can say for sure have received proper anti-rabies inoculation yet? What is the crime here for God’s sake? If harm had mistakenly befallen these two Beniniose on Nigerian soil, how are we sure their home country would not roll out a raft of punitive measures against us in retaliation? Like throwing its borders wide open for those wishing to smuggle dollars out of Nigeria by road.
Baying for blood still, EFCC released yet another bombshell. It said it uncovered iron-cast proof allegedly linking the same Tarfa to other nefarious activities. A lawyer from his chamber was alleged to have formed the habit of manipulating the court registry to assign cases Tarfa had interest in to a small cartel of judges who presumably may also have been quietly benefitting from his other exhibitions of “emotional intelligence”. Just as it was claimed that the call logs of the cellphone impounded from Tarfa allegedly revealed cash transfer to “other public officers”, apart from another $500,000 allegedly collected from a client “under the pretext of bribing some EFCC officials”.
Well, well, let EFCC not rejoice yet. For all these are still mere allegations until court adjudicated them to be true and not mere beer-parlor gossip.
Thank God, despite all the provocation, the Senior Advocate refused to resort to self-help. Instead, he has chosen the most civilized path by first approaching the court to seek legal remedies. For starters, on the day his suit was first announced at the Lagos High Court in Igbosere, Lagos, a record 99 lawyers, including 32 fellow Senior Advocates of Nigeria, were on parade in what promises to test, among other things, whether any offense lies in seeking to make the judiciary a lab for clinical demonstration of “emotional intelligence”.
And just when it became certain that he already had the heads of the enemies on the legal chopping board, Tarfa, in yet another show of exemplary “emotional intelligence” and perhaps as a mark of respect for the sensibility of Christian faithful this Lenten season, dramatically withdrew Wednesday his multi-billion naira suit against not only EFCC but also Femi Falana, SAN, Mrs. Rashidatou Abdou and MTN.
Ah, Tarfa, truly the greatest, you are.
It is now left for the court to interpret the law without fear or favour with regards to the substantive charge brought by the EFCC. The nation is watching.