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FG docks Justice Ngwuta on 14-count charges today

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – Barring any hitch, the Federal Government will today, dock Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court on a 14-count criminal charge.

Ngwuta is expected to enter his plea before trial Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The court had last week, issued trial notice to the accused jurist who is currently enjoying administrative bail granted him by the Department of State Service, DSS.

Though FG initially slammed a nine-count charge against Ngwuta, however, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, subsequently expanded the charge, following “fresh proof of evidence” against the defendant.

Justice Ngwuta
Justice Ngwuta

Justice Ngwuta was among seven superior court judges that were arrested between October 7 and 8, after the DSS raided their homes in what it termed “a sting operation”.

Aside Ngwuta, other Judges equally earmarked for prosecution after the operation are Justices Inyang Okoro also of the Supreme Court, Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Muazu Pindiga of the Federal High Court, Gombe Division, former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice I. A. Umezulike, the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division, Justice Mohammed Tsamiya; and judge of the Kano State High Court, Justice Kabiru Auta.

The National Judicial Council, NJC, had earlier ordered all the affected Judges to step down from the bench, pending their trial.

FG had also entered a 15-count charge against Justice Ademola and his wife, Olabowale who is currently the Head of Service of Lagos State.

Meantime, Justice Ngwuta was in the amended charge marked FHC/ABJ/C/232, and signed by a Principal State Counsel, Hajara H. Yusuf, alleged to have among other offences, stashed foreign currencies in his Abuja home.

FG said the DSS, at the end of the search operation conducted at Ngwuta’s official residence, recovered several sums of cash, including the sum of Thirty-Five Million, Three Hundred and Fifty-Eight Thousand Naira (NGN35,358,000.00); Three Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Ninety- Six United States Dollars ($319,596.00).

As well as Twenty-Five Thousand Nine Hundred and Fifteen Pounds Sterling (GBP 25,915) and Two Hundred and Eighty Euros (EURO 280.00).

It said the search also revealed about four Diplomatic passports, one official and two standard Nigerian passports all in the name of the defendant.

FG told the court that the DSS executed a search warrant at Justice Ngwuta’s home on October 8, following series of allegations of corruption that were levelled against him.

The amended charge was filed pursuant to Sections 104 and 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

Meanwhile, documents sighted by Vanguard revealed that FG has lined-up five witnesses that will testify against Ngwuta.

The witnesses are Aminu N Ibrahim, who is to testify on the search conducted on the defendant’s residence on or about 7/8 October, Ngo Awoikiega, who will testify on the investigation/ interrogation of the Defendant

Others are Mr. Tanko Nuhu Kutana, an Immigration Officer who will testify on the multiple Diplomatic and Standard Nigerian Passports obtained by the Defendant.

Ogudu Nwadire will tell the court how as an Architect to the defendant between 2014 and 2016, he handled several projects for which he received cash payments totalling $100,000.00.

While Nwamba Linus Chukwuebuka will testify on how as a building contractor to the defendant between 2014 and 2016, he handled several projects for which he received cash payments from the Defendant totalling $1,000,000.00.

Already, the DSS official responsible for the investigation of the case, Bamai Abu Nehemiah, has deposed an affidavit of completion of investigation into the matter.

According to him, “That I was informed by Hajara H. Yusuf, a Principal State Counsel in the Department of Public Prosecutions of the Federation at her office at the Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja FCT on Monday, 18th day of October, 2016 at about 12 noon that it is the opinion of the Department of Public Prosecution that the investigations conducted in this case has so far revealed a prima facie case against the Defendant”.

Among exhibits FG said it would tender against the defendant, include search Warrant; cash recovered from the defendant’s residence; Video CDs of the defendant’s interview; Statement of the defendant dated October 12, 17, 24, 25 and 27.

As well as statements of all the witnesses made from November 7 to 13.

Others are House Upkeep And Project Account by Ogudu Nwadire, Photographs search at the Defendant’s House, NIS Data base printouts of the Defendant’s e-passport (both standard and diplomatic); Defendant’s travel history; Sworn Affidavit submitted by the subject prior to renewal /cancellation of any one of his passports; E-Official/Diplomatic Passport Data Form, Bill of costs and Order of Payment from Base 4 Services Ltd by Nwamba Linus Chukwuebuka, Pictures of houses under construction belonging to the Defendant.

Some of the charges against Justice Ngwuta are:

COUNT ONE:
STATEMENT OF OFFENCE
Money Laundering, contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE
Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta, adult, ’M’, 65 years, of No. 2 Yellow Houses, Supreme Court Quarters, Off Shehu Shagari Way, Central District, Abuja, on or about the 4th day of January 2016, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, transferred the total sum of One Hundred and Thirty Million denominated in, Naira and US Dollars, (N130,000,000.00) to Nwamba Linus Chukwuebuka, a Building Contractor, which sums formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 (as amended).

COUNT TWO; STATEMENT OF OFFENCE
Money Laundering, contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE
Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta, adult, ’M’, 65 years, of No. 2 Yellow Houses, Supreme Court Quarters, Off Shehu Shagari Way, Central District, Abuja, on or about April 2016, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, transferred the total sum of One Hundred and Sixty Five Million, denominated in Naira and US Dollars, (N165,000,000.00) to Nwamba Linus Chukwuebuka, a Building Contractor, which sums formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 (as amended).

COUNT THREE STATEMENT OF OFFENCE
Money Laundering, contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act

PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE
Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta, adult, ’M’, 65 years, of No. 2 Yellow Houses, Supreme Court Quarters, Off Shehu Shagari Way, Central District, Abuja, on or about April 2016, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, transferred the total sum of One Hundred Million, denominated in Naira and US Dollars, (N100,000,000.00) to Nwamba Linus Chukwuebuka, a Building Contractor, which sums formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 (as amended).

COUNT FOUR STATEMENT OF OFFENCE
Money Laundering, contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE
Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta, adult, ’M’, 65 years, of No. 2 Yellow Houses, Supreme Court Quarters, Off Shehu Shagari Way, Central District, Abuja, on or about May, 2016, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, transferred the total sum of One Hundred and Ten Million , denominated in Naira and US Dollars, (N110,000,000.00) to Nwamba Linus Chukwuebuka, a Building Contractor, which sums formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 (as amended).

COUNT TWELVE STATEMENT OF OFFENCE
Unauthorized Possession of More than One Valid Standard Nigerian Passport contrary to Section 10 (1) (a) of the Immigration Act 2015 and punishable under Section 10 (1) of the Act.

PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE
Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta, adult, ‘M’, 65 years, of No. 2 Yellow Houses, Supreme Court Quarters, Off Shehu Shagari Way, Central District, Abuja, FCT, on 8th October 2016 at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, had in your possession, two valid Standard Nigerian Passports and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 10 (1) (a) of the Immigration Act 2015.

COUNT THIRTEEN; STATEMENT OF OFFENCE
Making a False Statement for the Purpose of Procuring a Passport contrary to Section 10 (1) (c) of the Immigration Act 2015 and punishable under Section 10 (1) of the Act
PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE
Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta, adult, ‘M’, 65 years, of No. 2 Yellow Houses, Supreme Court Quarters, Off Shehu Shagari Way, Central District, Abuja, FCT, on the 5th day of April 2016, at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, knowingly made a false statement to the Passport Office concerning the loss of your Standard Nigerian Passport No: A04389985 and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 10 (1) (c) of the Immigration Act.

COUNT FOURTEEN STATEMENT OF OFFENCE
Submitting Multiple Applications to the Passport Office with the Intention of Obtaining Multiple Passports contrary to Section 10 (1) (d) of the Immigration Act 2015 and punishable under Section 10 (1) of the same Act.

PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE
Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta, adult, male, 65 years, of No. 2 Yellow Houses, Supreme Court Quarters, Off Shehu Shagari Way, Central District, Abuja, FCT, on the 5th day of April 2016, at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, you submitted multiple applications to one or more passport offices with the intention of obtaining multiple Standard Nigerian Passports for yourself and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 10 (1) (d) of the Immigration Act 2015 and punishable under Section 10 (1) of the same Act”.


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