Prosecution counsel withdraws from Justice Ngwuta’s trial
Prosecution counsel, Charles Adeogun-Philips, on Thursday withdrew from the trial of Supreme Court judge, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, who is being prosecuted by the Federal Government on money laundering charges of over N500million.
Adeogun-Philips, engaged from the International Criminal Court, announced his decision to withdraw from the case when the case up for the continuation of trial before Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The lawyer announced his withdrawal when the case was called for cross-examination.
Adeogun-Philips rose to tell the judge that he had decided to withdraw from the case, but he did not give a reason for his withdrawal.
Mrs Hajara Yusuf, a counsel from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, however, took over as the leader of the prosecuting team.
She said: “I have been instructed to inform the court that Mr Charles Adeogun-Philips, the lead prosecuting counsel, will no longer be appearing in this matter.
“In view of this change, myself and my colleagues will be appearing, subject when arrangement will be made in due course.”
The judge thanked Adeogun-Philips for his courtesy in the course of his appearance for the prosecution.
“The court has taken into the notice of the withdrawal of the prosecution counsel Mr Charles and the court wishes him success in his further endeavours,” the judge said.
The lead defence counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), also commended the erstwhile prosecuting counsel’s conduct and wished him success too.
The lead defence counsel, Agabi, however, cross-examined Mr Nwaba Linus, the first prosecution witness. Linus said he was paid for the services he rendered to the defendant because he thought it was legal.
“I would not have accepted the payment if I thought it was a crime, but he explained the source of the money that was why I accepted.
“The work I did for the defendant was in the open, I documented all the construction I did for him and the document cannot be regarded as illegal.
“I have never received any complaint against the defendant or heard of any report from police or any enforcement agency,’’ he said.
The witness further stated that he was arrested and detained for seven days by the DSS, adding that he did not consider his arrest and detention as justified.
Yusuf asked for an adjournment to enable her to put things in order because of the changes. Justice Tsoho adjourned the case till Feb. 13, for the continuation of hearing.
Ngwuta was arraigned on a 16-count charge including money laundering and offences relating to obtaining multiple passports.