The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Friday informed an Igbosere High Court of Lagos State, that the application filed by the embattled Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Rickey Tarfa, challenging the agency’s suit on his failure to declare his assets lacks merit and such should be dismissed.
The anti-graft agency also stated that all the objections raised in an application filed before the court, praying the court to quash the charge against him was an after thought.
The SAN was docked before Justice A. A Akintoye on March 9, on a 27 count-charge bordering on refusal to declare assets, offering gratification to a judge of Federal High Court.
At the resumed hearing of the criminal charge on Friday, the EFCC counsel Rotimi Oyedepo made this submission while opposing the application to quash the charge against Tarfa.
Tarfa had earlier urged the court to quash the charge against him, for lack of jurisdiction among other.
Tarfa’s lawyer, Mr. Anthony Idigbe (SAN), argued that the EFCC can not be the complainant, the investigator and as well as the prosecutor.
” We submit that this is contrary to natural justice equity and good conscience, this is also in breach of section 36 of the 1999 constitution which requires that every citizen should have fair hearing in other to guarantee independence and impartiality in every proceeding.
“The procedure that such charge should get the Director of Public Prosecution DPP’s advice was not followed this presents a glaring threat to the right of citizens under section 36 of the constitution”, he said.
Idigbe also stated that section 172 and 209 of the constitution makes provision for compulsory declaration of assets by public officials and this defendant is not a public officer therefore the charge respecting that can not be sustained.
In a swift response to Tarfa’s application, EFCC filed a 12 paragraph counter affidavit sworn to Moses Awolusi an operative of the agency, it also filed a written address dated March 21, 2016 and urged the court to discountenance all the prayers of the applicant.
Oyedepo, sited plethora of authorities to back his submissions.
He said that section 27 of the EFCC Act, empowered the commission to investigate and prosecute the defendant on the alleged offences.
Oyedepo also said that the action of the anti-graft agency was not in any way in contravention of section 212 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
Besides he said he will also be relying on the record of the court dated March 9, 2016, in which the court ordered the registrar to read and explain the charge to the defendant to which he said he understood and pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Again, he said the agency did not needs fiat of Lagos state Attorney general before he can prosecute the defendant because the agency is an independent commission empowered to investigate, prosecute any offences related to Economic and Financial Crimes.
On the issue of declaration of assets Oyedepo said Tarfa was investigated for offering gratification to public officer therefore the act impose the duty on him to declare his assets.
However after listening to the submission of both counsels, the presiding judge, Justice Akintoye adjourned the matter to April 20, for ruling.
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