By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, Monday, narrated before the Federal High Court in Abuja, how Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court who is facing corruption charges, allegedly used false age to obtain multiple international passports.
A Deputy Controller of Immigration, Mr. Tanko Kutana, who testified before the court as the third prosecution witness, PW-3, said that the embattled jurist had between 2012 and 2016, obtained four different international passports, adding that two of them were diplomatic passports that could gain the defendant entrance into any country.
According to the witness, the NIS issued second passport to Ngwuta after he claimed that he lost the one that was previously issued to him.
Kutana told the court that he formerly served at the document fraud unit of the NIS as a forensic expert before he was transferred to the Benue Command.
He said that the first passport which was issued to the defendant on November 29, 2012, will expire by November 28, 2017, while the second passport which will expire on April 10, 2021, was issued to the defendant on April 20, 2016.
The witness said he conducted forensic examination on the four passports after they were handed over to him by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation following the raid the Department of State Service, DSS, conducted at Justice Ngwuta’s home in October last year.
Kutana who earlier gave his Evidence-in-Chief in the matter and cross-examined by the defence team led by Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, was recalled to the witness box after FG increased charges against Ngwuta from 12 to 13 counts.
He was led in evidence yesterday by government lawyer, Mrs. Olufemi Fatunde.
Meanwhile, trial Justice John Tsoho has adjourned further hearing on the case till October 6.
Justice Ngwuta is facing charges bordering on money laundering charge, age falsification, as well as his alleged possession of multiple international passports.
He was docked before the high court on November 21, 2016, and subsequently granted bail to the tune of N100million.
FG told the court that shortly after Ngwuta was granted administrative bail by the DSS, he quickly called the PW-1, Mr. Linus Nwamba to help him conceal some of the evidence against him, including N27million he hid in his bathroom at Abakaliki in Ebonyi State.
The prosecution told the court that the defendant equally removed three exotic cars from his residence in his home town.
It told the court that the witness, Nwamba, initially hid the bag that contained the N27m cash at the residence of one Abraham Ezeani in Abakaliki, saying the Money “was subsequently dissipate by Mr Nwamba on the direct instructions of the defendant/applicant”.
It listed the three exotic cars that Ngwuta allegedly attempted to conceal, as a Hummer Jeep Sports Utility Vehicle, Wrangler Jeep Sports Utility Vehicle and a BMW 5 Series Sedan Vehicle which it said was quickly moved by the defendant to Clevero Hotel in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
FG said the properties which it maintained were derived from the proceeds of an unlawful act, were all subsequently recovered by investigators on November 11, following Nwamba’s arrest, weeks after the defendant had been released on administrative bail.
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).