Lagos Rickey Tarfa & Co has denied the allegation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that its principal partner and head of practice, Rickey Tarfa (SAN) was arrested and detained for obstructing the course of justice.
Investigations reveal that the personal intervention of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Augustine Alegeh (SAN) to secure his release from the detention camp of the EFCC have been rebuffed by the agency’s acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu.
The Trent had reported that Tarfa was arrested on Friday along with his clients, who are Beninoise nationals, Ghanhouse Sourous Nazaire and Zenou Modeste while performing his professional duty inside the Lagos High Court premises.
In a press statement delivered to The Trent by email on Sunday and signed by its partner and head of chambers, Mr. John Olusegun Odubela, it was revealed that Alegeh in the company of more than ten Senior Advocates of Nigeria had been to the EFCC “to discuss or process the bail” of Tarfa and despite “assurance given to him (Alegeh) that the highly respected lawyer would be released by the anti-graft agency, it turned out to be a “dummy by the highest authority of EFCC.
The NBA President was kept waiting in the office of EFCC from about 2.00pm till 8.00pm on Saturday, February 6, 2016. The team of SANs left the EFCC premises disappointed and humiliated”.
The statement by Tarfa’s law firm says that it is not possible for its principal partner to have obstructed justice as allleged by the EFCC. The matter concerning the Beninnoise businessmen was not a corruption related matter. It was purely a husband and wife tussle for control of a manufacturing company which was promoted by the couple. “it is purely a case of a marriage gone sour and a struggle for assets”.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we need to put it in the public domain that contrary to the blatant lies ditched out by the EFCC, Mr. R. Tarfa (SAN) was at the Lagos High Court in continuation of his professional duty to defend his clients, Ghanhoue Sourous Nazaire and Zenou Modeste,” the statement read.
“It is pertinent that, up till the time of the gestapo like tactics deployed by the EFCC, on Friday, our clients had been enjoying court bail and EFCC bail, hence the issue of jumping bail was out of the question.
“It thus borders on extreme mischief to insinuate that issue of jumping bail or resisting lawful arrest was at the heart of the sham enacted by EFCC operatives at Lagos High Court premises on Friday, 5th of February, 2016,” the law firm said.
According to the law firm, Tarfa was at the court expressing fear that the EFCC had plans to harass his clients and rearrest them despite bail order from the court for their release only for the operatives of the EFCC to whisk them away along with their lawyer, forcing Tarfa to drive in the EFCC convoy under armed escort.
“This is not how to fight corruption. The Federal Government needs to be pitied because the crusade against the scourge of corruption is gradually being derailed, by the 5th Columnists bent on setting the legal profession on a needless course with the government in its legitimate and publicly acclaimed drive to address the scourge of corruption bedeviling our country at present,” the statement read.
“We decry this act of arresting a legal practitioner in the course of his professional duties in the premises of the High Court and urge the Nigerian Bar Association(NBA), Human rights groups and all Nigerians to join in condemning this resort to gestapo like breach of counsel’s professional privilege and rights to protection in court premises while discharging their duty as counsel.”
Rickey Tarfa & Co ended the statement by appreciating the goodwill of “lovers of human rights” who had expressed support for its principal partner in different forms.