The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Wednesday re-arraigned Rickey Tarfa (SAN), on an amended charge of offering of gratification to public officers.
The commission had on March 10, brought Tarfa before an Igbosere High Court, Lagos, on a 27-count of willful obstruction of its authorised officers, refusal to declare assets, making false information and offering gratification to a public official.
At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, the commission ammended the charge and reduced it to a 26-count of the same offences.
EFCC also substituted Section 38 (2) on the charge for Section 39(2) of the EFCC Act, 2004.
However, before his plea was taken, Tarfa’s counsel, Mr Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), objected to the reading of the amended charge on the ground that it would overreach the decision of the Court of Appeal, Lagos.
Owonikoko argued that the Court of Appeal would on Jan. 19; hear the appeal filed against the ruling of the Lagos High Court.
He submitted that the amended charge raised constitutional issues that an accused person should not be charged twice for the same offence.
Owonikoko argued that the amended charge was a violation of Section 39 (9) of the constitution which prohibited a prosecutor from arraigning an accused twice for the same offence.
But, in his response, EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, argued that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), allowed the prosecution to amend a charge at any time before judgment was given.
He urged the court not to allow the defence to delay the trial.
In a bench ruling, Justice A. A. Akintoye dismissed Tarfar’s objection, adding that there was nothing wrong with the amended charge.
She ordered the registrar to read the amended charge to the accused.
Tarfa pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Subsequently, the court adjourned the case till Nov.28 for continuation of trial.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the anti-graft agency had in March,alleged, among others, that Tarfa offered N5.3million gratification to Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court, in order to compromise the judge.
The commission claimed that Tarfa transferred the money in several tranches to Justice Nganjiwa between June 27, 2012 and Dec. 23, 2014.