* SAN: I helped the judge
Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr Joseph Nwobike, paid N750,000 into the account of Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alleged Wednesday.
The allegation is contained in a counter-affidavit filed in opposition to a further and better affidavit filed by Rickey Tarfa (SAN).
Justice Mohammed Idris Wednesday ruled that Tarfa could adduce new evidence through the further affidavit deposed to by a lawyer, Mohammed Awwal Yunusa.
In the further and better affidavit, the lawyer said the bank account, which EFCC said Tarfa used to bribe Justice Yunusa, belongs to him, and not to Justice Yunusa as EFCC alleged in its counter-affidavit to Tarfa’s suit.
The lawyer said Tarfa gave him N225, 000 on January 7, 2014 to help finance his masters in Law degree.
But EFCC has alleged that Tarfa was not the only SAN to pay money to Justice Yunusa’s account.
An EFCC operative, Moses Awolusi, said there were new revelations about judges being allegedly induced through “a network of senior lawyers”.
“Investigation has also shown that as part of this chain of fraud, Mr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN) also transferred the sum of N300, 000 to Hon. Justice H.A Nganjiwa.
“Investigations further revealed that Hon Justice M.N Yunusa as part of this scheme of fraud also received the sum of N750, 000 from Mr. Joseph Nwobike SAN and Co,” the EFCC investigator said.
But Nwobike, in a statement to the anti-graft agency, which was also attached to the affidavit, explained that the money was not meant to bribe the judge.
He said it was the judge who asked him for financial assistance in respect of his mother who was undergoing dialysis due to failing kidney.
“Sometime ago, Justice Yunusa requested to see me. When I got there, he pleaded with me to assist him with some funds since his mother was under dialysis.
“He stated that her kidney had parked up and that he needed assistance to cure her. I felt sorry for him. I told him that I did not have funds, but that I would assist him when I had some money.
“I requested for his account details which he obliged me. When I got some money about two weeks after, I gave the money to him and he thanked me when he saw me along the corridor of the court of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi,” Nwobike said.
Justice Idris ruled that he would consider the further and better affidavit filed in support of Tarfa’s N2.5billion fundamental rights suit.
The Senior Advocate sued EFCC for allegedly violating his rights after he was arrested for hiding two suspects, Nazaire Sorou Gnanhoue and Modeste Finagnon, both Beninoise, in his Mercedes Benz Sports Utility (SUV) vehicle, thereby shielding them from arrest.
EFCC, its chairman Ibrahim Magu, Moses Awolusi, who arrested Tarfa, and Deputy Director Operations, EFCC, Lagos office, Iliyasu Kwarbai are the respondents.
Tarfa demanded N2.5billion, sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents and their agents from further violating his rights, and asked for N20 million as cost of the suit, among others.
Justice Idris ruled: “A court will allow a party re-open and adduce further evidence in circumstances of unavailability of the evidence during trial or hearing and in the interest of justice.
“Interest of justice involves an indulgence, even though it ought to be confined to matter arising ex-improviso, which no human ingenuity could have foreseen. There must have been no indolence, surprise, or otherwise an intention to overreach the other party.
“The evidence sought to be adduced by the applicant (Tarfa) was one that was not available previously in reply.
“From the nature of the evidence, it is my respectful view that it is in the interest of the parties and to court that it be allowed at this stage of proceedings for whatever it is worth.
“I do not consider it repugnant to justice and one intended to overreach the case. I shall stop here and say no more. The application succeeds and it is granted as prayed.
“The respondents (EFCC and others) are at liberty to respond to the fresh evidence adduced by the applicant herein.”
It was in the response filed by its lawyer Wahab Shittu that EFCC alleged that Nwobike paid the money to Justice Yunusa.
Justice Idris adjourned until today for hearing.