Court strikes out Justice Yinusa’s bribery trial, says he’s immune from criminal prosecution
A case of bribery and corruption the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) levelled against a judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Mohammed Yinusa, has been dismissed by a Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos State.
The trial judge, Justice Sherifat Solebo, said that since Justice Yinusa still serves as a sitting judge, “he is immune from any criminal prosecution.”
The EFCC had levelled a 9-count charge of attempted perversion of the course of justice and corruption against Yinusa.
The commission claimed that Yinusa in 2015 had constant and confidential communications with a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ricky Tarfa, who was handling three lawsuits before him.
According to the anti-graft agency, Yinusa allegedly collected a N1.5 million bribe from Tarfa for the purpose of giving favourable rulings and judgments in the cases.
Justice Yinusa was equally said to have allegedly received N750,000 from a former SAN, Mr Joseph Nwobike, between March 2015 and September, 2015, to get “favourable” judgment in some cases.
The Federal High Court judge was charged alongside the second defendant, Esther Agbo, an employee of Rickey Tarfa and Co..
Esther, according to the EFCC on May 14, 2015 allegedly paid the N1.5 million from Tarfa into Yunusa’s UBA account.
When the matter resumed on Monday, Counsel to the 2nd defendant, Mr Olusegun Odubela (SAN) told the court that the 1st Defendant’s counsel, Professor Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN) wrote to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for a review of the report recommending Justice Yinusa’s suspension.
Odubela said the NJC set up another committee to consider the recommendations upon which the 1st Defendant, Justice Yinusa was suspended.
He said that at the NJC’s 93rd meeting held on December 17, 2020 that a report of the review committee was submitted and accepted based on which the NJC lifted the suspension of Justice Yinusa and directed that he should return to work.
He added that the NJC on December 23, 2020 wrote to the chief judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho to convey its decision to lift the suspension of the 1st Defendant following which the CJ himself conveyed the information to Justice Yinusa via a letter written on the 11th of Jan. 2021.
He told the trial judge that the letter was tendered in court and accepted as an exhibit with no objections from the EFCC Counsel, Mr Wahab Shittu.
Odubela said with the development, and in the light of the court of appeal decision in the case of Nganjiwa Vs Fed.Republic of Nigeria, that the court should strike out the name of Justice Yinusa from the charge before it.
Counsel to EFCC Shittu objected to Odubela’s prayer arguing that it was misplaced.
But ruling on the matter, Justice Solebo said that in view of the exhibit tendered before the court showing that Justice Yinusa is still a sitting judge, he is immune from any criminal prosecution.
She, therefore struck out his name from the charge and discharged him.
The judge asked the EFCC to amend the charge against the second defendant, Esther Agbo and adjourned the matter till January 26.