The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has finally arraigned Justice Muhammed Yunusa, a Federal High Court judge, and a staff of Ricky-Tafa Chamber, Ms. Esther Agbor, on allegation of gratification and attempt to pervert the course of justice.
The defendants were arraigned on five counts before Justice S.O. Solebo of the Lagos State High Court, in Ikeja.
Count 1 of the charge claimed that Justice Yunusa between February and September of 2015, attempted to “pervert the course of justice by engaging in constant private and confidential telephone conversations” with Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), who was at the time defending cases before him. Justice Yunusa and his lawyer.
The anti-graft agency also alleged that the judge agreed to receive the sum of N1.5 million paid into his United Bank of Africa Plc account number 1005055617 by Esther Agbo, in other to give a decision in favor of the chambers of Rickey Tarfa & Co, in cases handled by the chamber, before him as a judge of Federal High Court in Ikoyi.
The third count accused Justice Yunusa of agreeing to receive financial benefit from Joseph Nwobike (SAN) in other to favor the SAN in some cases he was defending before him; adding that a sum of N750,000 was paid into same UBA account by Mr. Nwobike.
Count 5 says; “Esther Agbo on or about the 14th May, 2015, within the jurisdiction of this honorable court and in the course of your employment in Rickey Tara & Co, gave as gratification the sum of N1, 500, 00 to Hon. Justice Yunusa Mohammed Nasir, a judge of the Federal High Court in order to induce him to hive decisions favorable to the chambers of Rickey Tarfa & Co in (i) Suit No. FHC/L/CS/714/2015 between Mr. Adewale Adeniyi v EFCC & 2 others, (ii) Suit No FHC/L/CS/715/2015 between Rena Prestige Industries Ltd & Anor. V EFCC & two others, (iii) suit No. FHC/L/CS/716/2015 between Hair Prestige Manufacturing Nigeria Ltd & 3 other V EFCC & 2 others being cases handled by the said chambers before Hon. Justice Yunusa Mohammed Nasir”.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Lawyer to Justice Yunusa, Mr. I. Mohammed, urged the court to grant his client bail on self-recognition, claiming that he has not been dismissed by the federal government, hence he remains a serving judge. Also, Agbor’s lawyer, John Olusegun Odubela (SAN) asked the court to grant her bail on self-recognition or liberal terms. He argued that the defendant is a nursing mother with various medical conditions.
He pleaded that should the court find it necessary to impose condition, it should be that one of the 70 lawyers at Rickey-Tarfa should stand for her.
However, EFCC’s counsel, Mr. Ozioko opposed the bail applications. He told the court that in the likelihood that bail would be granted, it should be on conditions that will compel the defendants to attend trial.
In her ruling, Justice Solebo granted the two defendants bail. While she granted Yunusa bail on self-recognition; she however ordered that he must not travel out of the jurisdiction of the court. The commission was also ordered to remit Justice Yunusa’s international passport to the court registrar.
On the other hand, Agbor was granted bail in the sum of one million Naira, with two sureties in like sum. The sureties must have verifiable addresses within the jurisdiction of the court and have tax clearance evidence for three years.
The matter was adjourned for trial on February 20, 2018.