On Tuesday, February 16, prominent Nigerian lawyer, Rickey Tarfa (SAN) arrived the Lagos State High Court, Igbosere, for an arraignment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with over 90 lawyers, inclusive of a good number of senior Advocates of Nigeria.
The lawyer had been arraigned before justice Aishat Opesanwo on a 2-count charge of obstruction of justice and attempting to pervert the course of justice. The lawyer had allegedly willfully obstructed two authorised EFCC operatives from carrying out the arrest of a Gnanhoue Sorou and Nazaire Modeste, who were reasonably suspected of committing economic and financial crimes. He had allegedly kept the suspects in his car.
In the second allegation, Rickey Tarfa was accused of attempting to pervert justice by “communicating with Hon. Justice M.N. Yunusa of the Federal High Court through your mobile telephone No. 08034600000, whilst suit No. FHC/L/CS/715/2015 between Rana Prestige Industries Nigeria and the EFCC; and suit No. FHC/L/CS/715 between Hair Prestige Manufacturing Nigeria and the EFCC were pending before the said judge.” Rickey Tarfa pled not guilty to both counts.
Based on that plea, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo had asked the court on Tuesday for a trial date and also that Mr. Tarfa be remanded in custody. Justice Opesanwo however granted the defendant bail on self recognition, with an added clause that he not travel out of the country without the court’s permission, she had said that she was satisfied that he would not abscond if granted bail.
Referring to Mr. Tarfa’s impressive number of lawyers however, she said; “I find no need for this magnitude of support. It is to harass and intimidate us on this side”. A good number of Nigerians also seemed annoyed at the show, going on twitter to express their displeasure or just humorously laugh at the show, citing everything from how people who really need lawyers in the country could hardly afford them, to previously made comments by the President on how the judiciary in the country his biggest headache in the fight against corruption.