A Lagos State High Court, Igbosere, on Monday adjourned to Tuesday for the trial of Chief Rickey Tarfa SAN for alleged bribery and unlawful obstruction of public officers.
Justice Adedayo Akintoye made the order following the absence of prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Tarfa is standing trial on a 27-count charge of, among others, age falsification and offering of gratification to a public officer, pressed against him by the anti-graft agency.
At the last adjournment on February 28, the court rejected Oyedepo’s proposal of trial on three dates, two of which fell on a Good Friday and a Saturday.
It adjourned till noon Tuesday for continuation of trial.
But at the commencement of proceedings, Defence counsel Oluyele Delana and Abiodun Owonikoko, both SANs, observed that there was no representation from the EFCC.
Owonikoko said: “I am taken aback by the prosecution’s absence. No letter was given to the defence to explain their absence.
“I can confirm that yesterday (Tuesday), I was in court with Mr Oyedepo for another matter and there was nothing to indicate that he would not be in court. Since that time, I have been to Kaduna and back.
“It is not fair on the defendant.”
Justice Akintoye noted the agency’s absence and gave Oyedepo till Tuesday to explain his absence.
“I have recorded their absence. So that they don’t waste our time, we have tomorrow to continue and for them to tell us why,” the judge said.
The EFCC arraigned Tarfa on March 10, 2016 on a 27-count charge which was subsequently amended to 26 counts.
He was accused of alleged willful obstruction of authorized EFCC officials, refusal to declare assets and giving false information to a public officer.
The agency also alleged, among others, that the lawyer offered N5.3million gratification to Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court, Lagos in order to compromise the judge.
It claimed that Tarfa transferred the money in several tranches to Justice Nganjiwa between June 27, 2012 and December 23, 2014.
Tarfa pleaded not guilty.