Justice Ngwuta
CJN, Justice Muhammed

The federal government has filed a nine-count criminal charge of money laundering and corruption against Justice Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta of the Supreme Court. This signals the commencement of trial against the judges indicted for corrupt practices.

The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation charged Justice Ngwuta was alleged to have had in his possession the sums of N35.3m, $319,596.00, £25,915.00 and EURO 280.00.  According to the prosecutors, the monies are part of the proceeds of unlawful acts contrary to the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended).

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Justice Ngwuta was also alleged to have obtained multiple passports. Four diplomatic passports were found in her possession. Two of them are valid one official and two standard Nigerian passports, all in the name of the defendant. This, according to the government is contrary to Section 10 of the Immigration Act 2015 and punishable under the same Section.

He was also alleged to have made false statements to the passport office concerning his date of birth for the purpose of procuring an additional diplomatic passport for himself.

One of the counts reads: “Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta, male, 65 years, No. 2 Yellow Houses, Supreme Court Quarters, Off Shehu Shagari Way, Central District, Abuja, on or about the 8th day of October, 2016, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, retained in your possession the sum of N35, 358, 000.00 which sum forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) OF the Money Laundering ( Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended).”

A date has not been fixed for hearing of the case.

Victim Of My Own Resolve -Ngwuta

However, Justice Ngwuta has earlier declared that he was a victim of his resolve not to violate his oath of office. In a letter addressed to the CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, accused minister of transport, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, of masterminding his arrest.

He said Amaechi had asked him to influence the Ekiti state guber election in 2013. He also accused him of trying to influence judges over Rivers state elections.

“My Noble Lord, I am a victim of my own resolve never to violate my sacred oath of office as a Judicial Officer. Politicians and their collaborators have been hunting me on that account.”