FG amends charges against Justice Ngwuta for the third time

FG amends charges against Justice Ngwuta for the third time

The Federal Government has again amended the charges levelled against
suspended Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta for the
third time since trial commenced.

The Prosecuting counsel, Olufemi Fatunde, at the resumption of trial
before Justice John Tsoho of an Abuja Federal High Court informed about
the new amendment which sought to add another charge making it a 13
count charge.

However, the newly introduced charge had earlier been removed from the
original 16 count charge levelled against the defendant bothers on false
statement he allegedly made to immigration officials, over his
diplomatic passport, which he was said to have declared missing in a bid
to get another one.

Upon resumption of trial, the prosecution called its fourth prosecution
witness, Tanimola Alao, a senior security and intelligence officer with
the Department of State Service (DSS), who claimed to have taken the
statement of the defendant on October 9, 2016.

The statement was subsequently tendered and admitted as Exhibit 9.

Under cross examination by Kanu Agabi SAN, Alao informed the trial court
that he did not read the content of the statement because he was not the
investigator, stating that; “I was only asked to witness the statement
writing”.

The prosecution went further to call on John Utazi, prosecution witness
5, a staff officer of the DSS who told the trial court how his team
visited the residence of Justice Ngwuta on October 7, 2016, searched the
whole residence and recovered various sums of money in local and foreign
currencies.

”On October 7, 2016, I was in my office at the national headquarters
when my boss asked me to proceed to No 2 Supreme court quarters and
conduct a search, and immediately I departed with my team, on getting to
the gate, I saw two policemen and three private security guards.

“It was much later that one of the private security guard opened the
gate and led us to the door of the defendant’s house. When we got to
the door, the guard knocked, the house keeper opened the door and I told
him I wanted to see the defendant.

”Just then, the defendant who happened to be close by beckoned on us
to come in, I introduced myself and members of my team and told him we
were there to search his residence, we showed him the search warrant to
read, after which he asked if the Chief Justice of Nigeria was aware, I
answered that I was not aware.

“He took us upstairs of the building. He took us to the first bedroom,
opened the door and we entered with him, we noticed two wardrobes, we
search one of the wardrobes and found large sum of money in bags, when
we brought out the bags and asked the defendant to see the contents.

“The second wardrobe was almost concealed with a cloth, however the
cloth did not cover the entire wardrobe, I shifted the cloth and saw a
chain linking the two handles of the wardrobe, on it was a padlock. The
defendant sent the house keeper to fetch the key from his study, the
padlock was opened.

“When the chain was removed and wardrobe was opened, we saw a lot of
bags, when we opened them, we found a lot of foreign currencies. He took
us to another room, we search and also discovered money. He took us to
his study, we discovered bank statements, building plans, land
documents, documents relating to salary of the defendant and some
vehicle papers”, Utazi said.

However, he informed further that subsequent search on another bedroom,
sitting room, the ground floor and the boy’s quarters, the operatives
could not find anything incriminating.

“We went back to meet the defendant and informed him that we would
need to count the items recovered and documented all of them at the back
of the search warrant, in the presence of the defendant, I endorsed it
and also gave it to the defendant to see.

“After we finished and were leaving, I requested the defendant to join
me to go see my boss who sent us on the search, he did not object and
went with us”, he added.

The prosecuting counsel tendered the search warrant before the court and
was admitted as Exhibit 10.

The prosecution however, sought for an adjournment to tender some
Exhibits which had not arrived at the close of testimony of PW5, which
was granted and matter was subsequently adjourned to May 17, 2017 for
continuation of trial.

Amongst the charges preferred against him, he was accused of
transferring various sums of money to 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).

The sum of N35.4million, $319,596 and GBP25, 915 were also alleged to
have been found in his Abuja residence, during the raid conducted on it
by the DSS.

He is also being charged for unauthorized possession of more than one
valid diplomatic Passport, making a false statement for the purpose of
procuring a Passport, submitting multiple applications to a Passport
Office with the intention of obtaining multiple Passports, unauthorized
possession of more than one valid standard Nigerian Passport 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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