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Court discharges Justice Ngwuta of money laundering charge

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Justice Sylvester Ngwuta during his arraignment at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday, November 21, 2016. PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ELUKPO

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday discharged a Supreme Court judge, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the 13-count charge preferred against him by the Federal Government in 2016.

Deliveringa ruling, Justice John Tsoho held that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the case.

Tsoho also held that the condition precedent for charging a judicial officer to court was not complied with.

He said the precedent was that any judicial officer accused of a wrong doing must first be reported to the National Judicial Council (NJC), before being charged to court.

Tsoho said that the condition was not followed before the charges were filed against Ngwuta, adding that the proceedings so far conducted in the case remained null and void.

“The court holds that the condition precedent to filing of the charge against the applicant (Ngwuta) was not fulfilled. Consequently, the jurisdiction of this court to try same was not properly invoked.

“Therefore, the proceedings taken so far herein are declared a nullity, the charge is struck out and the applicant discharged,” Tsoho ruled.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)reports that Ngwuta was charged following a raid on his house and some other judges by operatives of the Department of State Security Services, (DSS).

He was arraigned on charges of Money Laundering and possession of multiple international passports.

In the course of the trial, Counsel to the defendant, Mr Kanu Agabi, (SAN) filed an application seeking an order of the court dismissing the matter for lack of jurisdiction.

Agabi argued that the condition-precedent for the invocation of the jurisdiction of the court as set by the Court of Appeal was not followed.

Speaking with newsmen after the session, Mrs Olufemi Fatunde, the Prosecuting Counsel said a petition would be duly sent to the NJC to formally place Ngwuta’s alleged misconduct before the council.

She said it was indeed incumbent on the prosecution to follow the proper procedure for charging a judicial officer to court.


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Sylvester Ngwuta
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