A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Rickey Tarfa, is seeking N500million from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as damages for alleged malicious prosecution.

Tarfa made the application yesterday in a no-case submission he filed before the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere, in response to the EFCC’s criminal charge against him.

The lawyer, through his counsel Mr Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), told Justice Adedayo Akintunde that the 26-count charge of alleged bribery and attempt to pervert the course of justice was malicious.

He prayed the court to make an example of the anti-graft agency and “slam the hammer” on it with a N500m damages award.

Tarfa has been standing trial before the judge since March 2016.

Last October 23, the anti-graft agency closed its case against the defendant following which he indicated his intention to file a no-case submission.

At yesterday’s proceedings, Owonikoko poked holes in the commission’s claims that Tarfa “refused and failed” to declare his assets, contrary to the EFCC Act.

According to him, Tarfa was entirely within his constitutional right to remain silent.

On the allegation in count three that the defendant lied about his age during interrogation on February 5, 2016 at the commission’s Lagos office, Owonikoko distinguished between falsehood and a mistake.

According to him, Tarfa made a mistake, which the EFCC ought to have drawn his attention to, rather than springing a surprise on him by making the mistake a basis for a criminal charge.

Owonikoko also contested the charge that the defendant offered gratification to Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court, Bayelsa.

He submitted, among others, that the EFCC failed to link to Justice Nganjiwa, the deposits made by Tarfa to the accounts of a firm, Awa Ajia Nigeria Ltd.

According to him, Tarfa “has never handled a case before Justice Nganjiwa.”

Justifying the claim for N500m as damages, he said the defendant’s reputation and occupation had suffered:

But EFCC counsel Mr Rotimi Oyedepo opposed Tarfa’s no-case submission, “because it amounts to contesting the obvious.”

“I am passionately urging my lord to dismiss this application and call on the defendant to explain the allegations that we have proved against him.”

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