A Lagos High Court sitting in the Igbosere area has adjourned the trial of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Rickey Tarfa, till May 30.
Justice Adedayo Akintoye made the decision after being informed that Tarfa could not attend trials due to a surgery which has left him on a wheelchair and unable to climb the staircase leading to her courtroom at the single-storey foyer of the court complex.
Tarfa is standing trial before the court on a 26-count charge of offering gratification to two judges of the Federal High Court – Justices Hyeladzira Nganjiwa and Mohammed Yunusa.
The case has been stalled since January 21, when Mr Tarfa obtained the permission of the court to travel abroad for medical attention.
Upon his return, the defendant was unable to move into the courtroom on March 11 and 19, because, according to his counsel, he had difficulty moving or sitting for long.
At the commencement of proceedings today, Tarfa was, yet again, not in the courtroom.
His counsel, Mr Abiodun Owonikoko, informed the judge that the defendant was in his car downstairs but could not enter the courtroom due to the severity of his condition.
He reminded the court that on March 19, he filed a medical recommendation from Tarfa’s doctors which stated that he required a minimum of three months medical leave to enable him to recuperate.
Owonikoko suggested that but for the trial; the defendant would have been confined to a bed.
But the counsel to the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, observed that for the defendant to make the trip to court there was a presumption that he could attend the trial.
He lamented that the situation was foisting a delay on the proceedings.
“If the defendant can manage himself to get here, I don’t think it will be out of place for him to come into the courtroom.
“I want to plead with the defence that they should do the needful for him to appear in court. His movement from the car to this place should not be impossible,” Oyedepo said.
Following the arguments on the issue, Justice Akintoye ordered the court registrar, Oyedepo and Owonikoko to go and verify that Tarfa was actually outside.
They did and on their return, Oyedepo confirmed that they found Tarfa seated in the back seat of a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV).
Oyedepo also said: “One part of his leg is swollen, but he was seated. If it’s impossible for him to come up, if we can get another venue that is downstairs, it might be possible to continue the trial.”
But Owonikoko informed the judge that access to the court was not the primary problem.
“He (Tarfa) can’t sit for too long, he has to be lying for the wound to heal properly,” the Silk said.
In his ruling on the issue, Justice Adedayo said: “We’ll look for a court that is downstairs and check if they can accommodate us. We’ll take two weeks (a two-week adjournment) during which we’ll look for a venue. If we find, the registrar will communicate a venue and time to the parties and we’ll come for a trial.”
She then adjourned further proceedings till May 30.