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FG expands charges against suspended judges

*New revelations against suspects cause of shift to this week

By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor

Abuja—Reasons the Federal Government delayed the filing of charges preferred against judges suspected of corrupt practices in the course of their duties, emerged last night.

Vanguard gathered that the Federal Government shifted the filing of already prepared charges against the judges last week, following the discovery of new evidence that might be germane to nailing the suspects in court.

Although the alleged offences of three of the judges were obtained by our correspondent last week, the new revelations against the suspects were not made public at the time of filing the report.

A competent official confirmed to Vanguard that the charges would be entered this week but did not say which day in particular.

“We are looking at filing the charges this week, that is all I can say for now.  What happened was that after we had prepared the charges to be filed last Tuesday, we came across new revelations relating to the matter, thereby necessitating further consolidations,’’ the source said.

Documents at the disposal of Vanguard showed that the suspects are to be tried mainly on money laundering, considering the amount of cash recovered from their homes during a night raid by operatives of the Department of State Security Service on October 7 this year.

The prepared document showed that Justice John Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court is to be arraigned for allegedly collecting $20,000 gratification from a former South-South governor, N18 m from a litigant, Adegbenro, and for possessing $38,000 cash at home at the time of the DSS raid.

Similarly, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta also of the Supreme Court faces money laundering charges too for allegedly keeping, N35.208 m, $319,596.00, and £25,890 cash at home.

On the other hand, the Federal Government is planning to slam Justice Ademola Adeniyi of the Federal High Court with four-count charge of storing  $178,000, N 38m cash at home as well as possessing illegal firearms/ammunition.

According to the court records at the disposal of Vanguard, the Federal Government is charging them to court pursuant to  sections 104 and 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

The charges were supported by an affidavit deposed to by an operative of the DSS, the agency, which carried out the sting operation on the suspected corrupt judges.

In it, the DSS, which conducted investigation into the three cases, affirmed that the probe of the suspects had been concluded and that he had the consent of the agency to depose to the affidavit.

The officer also confirmed that a Principal State Counsel in the Office of the  Department of Public Prosecutions of the Federation had confirmed to him that the opinion of the prosecution was that the investigation had so far revealed a prima facie case against the defendants.

Vanguard learned last night that the DSS would at the trial, rely on the Authority of the National Security Agencies Decree of 1986 (Cap 278 LFN) to justify its sting operation, which resulted in the huge cash and money laundering charges against the suspected judges.

Section 3 (1) of the law states: “For the purpose of facilitating the discharge of its functions under this instrument, personnel of the State Security Service, are hereby conferred with powers of a Superior Police Officer in respect of searches and arrests.”

Efforts to confirm the development with the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, whose office coordinates the trial, proved abortive, as he was said to be on official duty in in Europe.

The coast for the trial of the judges became clearer last week when the National Judiciary Council, NJC, formally suspended them from their duty posts.

It was not clear why the NJC, which had earlier opposed the Presidency in asking the suspects to step aside, suddenly changed its mind and asked the judges to step aside pending their trial.

 


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