An anti-graft coalition, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), has sent a request to the chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), demanding the investigation and prosecution of Justices Hyeladzira Nganjiwa and Mohammed Yunusa, for allegedly receiving millions of Naira in bribe from Rickey Tarfa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
Media reports had indicated that Mr. Tarfa allegedly paid money into the bank accounts of two Federal High Court judges.
CSNAC is now asking authorities to open an investigation, and prosecute anyone found culpable.
The group, through a petition signed by its chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, said it was unfortunate that Judges, who were supposed to be custodians of the law in Nigeria, now have their hands soiled in various corrupt practice.
Tosin Owobo, a witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, revealed Mr. Tarfa’s payment to the judges when he led in evidence by EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, at the ongoing trial of the senior advocate.
The witness, who is an EFCC operative, told the court that in the course of the investigation, the Commission wrote letters to Zenith and Fidelity banks requesting information on Mr. Tarfa and Awa Ajia Nigeria Limited’s account.
The responses, he said, showed that the signatory to the company’s account was a Judge, which was later found to be Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa.
Another judge of the Federal High Court, Mohammed Nasir Yunusa also featured in the bank statement as having received payment from Mr. Tarfa, Mr. Owobo said.
The witness later gave a breakdown of some transactions in the account linking Mr. Tarfa and the two judges from the statement of account received.
On August 6, 2013, he said, a cheque of N500, 000 was paid to H. A. Nganjiwa by Rickey Tarfa. On January 29, 2014, they discovered that H. A. Nganjiwa was paid the sum of N1.5m,” he said.
He said a cheque of N835, 000 was paid to Justice Nganjiwa on October 3, 2014. Also on December 23, 2014, he received N500, 000, which was cleared from Rickey Tafar’s account.
Another cash deposit of N1.5m was made into that account at Awa Ajia by Rickey Tafar.
He added that on October 27, 2015, a cash deposit of N1.5m was made into the account of H. A. Nganjiwa by Rickey Tafar.
On December 30, 2015, there was also a cash deposit in the sum of N500, 000. A cash deposit of N500, 000 by Rickey Tafar was made to Awa Ajia Nig. Ltd. on January 8, 2016.
Mr. Owobo further alleged that on November 30, 2015, there was a transfer of N200, 000 from Hauwa Nig. Ltd. to Justice Yunusa as well as the sum of N500, 000 on December 15, 2015.
According to CSNAC, the report also stated that on February 9, 2016, a transfer from Hauwa Nig. Ltd. was made to Mohammed Yunusa in the sum of N300, 000.
On June 28, 2012, the account of H. A. Nganjiwa was credited with the sum of N500, 000 and N1.5m from Rickey Tafar.
On December 22, 2014, a deposit of N500,000 was made, and on December 11, 2014, the judge of the Federal High Court, paid N3.5m to Rickey Tafar’s account. Also On 13th February, 2015 there was a transfer of N250, 000 from Mr. Tafar to Nganjiwa, and on 18th June, 2015, there was another transfer of N500, 000 to H. A. Nganjiwa, which were made by the same Tafar.”
Responding to the revelations, CSNAC said, “It is quite unfortunate that Judges who are supposed to be custodians of the law in Nigeria have their hands soiled in various corrupt practices. One wonders how these Judges are still allowed to adjudicate on cases in the country when they themselves have cases to answer. This ugly trend if not arrested early enough is capable of truncating our fragile democracy and eroding the confidence of Nigerians in the Judiciary.
“CSNAC is therefore by this petition calling on the Commission to as a matter of urgency conduct a thorough investigation into the aforementioned matter and commence immediate prosecution of these culpable judges. This has become very necessary in order to uphold the sanctity of the law as well as restore the confidence of Nigerians the judicial system.”
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