Tuesday, March 15, 2016 4:56 pm
By Akin Kuponiyi
There is no reprieve yet for the embattled Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN), Mr. Rickey Tarfa, as Justice Mohammed Idris presiding over a Federal High Court in Lagos south west Nigeria stayed further proceedings in a N2.5billion fundamental human rights enforcement suit he filed against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC).
Tarfa filed the suit following his arrest by the anti-graft agency within the premises of the Lagos high court Igbosere over alleged shielding of two Beninese who are his clients from arrest.
Justice Idris,while ruling on the matter today acceded to the EFCC’s request urging the court to stay proceedings pending the hearing and final determination of a criminal charge pending against Tarfa before Justice Aishat Opesanwo of a Lagos High Court.
Justice Idris observed that even though, there is no law that forbids the hearing of both civil and criminal matters together, a court retains discretion to stay civil proceedings during the pendency of criminal proceedings.
“But the substantial part of the reliefs sought herein do have a direct bearing with the charge pending at the Lagos High Court. It is clear from the evidence before the court that the applicant’s mobile handset and SUV have been registered as exhibits to be tendered at the criminal proceedings.
“Also, the information and data retrieved from the mobile handset are to be used as evidence in the criminal charge at the Lagos High Court”, the judge said.
“Therefore, there is a potential injustice that may befall the defendant in the prosecution of the criminal charge if this suit were to proceed to judgement and judgement were for instance, given in favour of the applicant. There is a strong possibility that it will signal the end of the criminal charge at the Lagos High Court. This court should not make orders that will strike violently at the heart of the criminal charge now pending at the Lagos High Court. For the above reasons, I am of the view that in the light of the peculiar circumstances of this case which is unprecedented, this is a proper case which proceedings should be stayed pending the hearing of the criminal charge at the Lagos High Court”, the judge held.
In the substantive suit, Rickey Tarfa is asking the court to compel the anti-graft agency and his Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Mustafa Magu to pay him N2.5billion.
Joined as co- defendants in the suit are; the Commissioner of Police, Acting Chairman,of EFCC Ibrahim Mustapha Magu, the EFCC operatives that arrested him, Moses Awolusi, and the Deputy Director Operations, EFCC, Lagos office, Iliyasu Kwarbai.
Apart from the monetary compensation, Tarfa also asked the court to compel the defendants to release his two mobile handsets allegedly collected from him on Friday, February 5, 2016 at their Ikoyi office in Lagos.
He stated that EFCC intended to destroy all information, data and other retrievable materials stored in the two handsets.
He also sought an order of the court urging the court to direct the defendants to release his Mercedes Benz SUV with registration No. KJA 700CG unlawfully seized from him.
The Senior Advocate also asked the court to order EFCC, Magu and two other defendants to publicly apologize to him in at least two widely circulated national newspapers, social media and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) as well as Channels Television within 24 hours from the day of the judgment of the suit.
Besides, he asked for an order of perpetual injunction restraining all the defendants and their agents from further violating his rights.