Sylvester Ngwuta, a Justice of the Supreme Court, has been granted bail in the sum of N100 million, after he was arraigned by the federal government on charges bothering on bribery and corruption.
Ngwuta was arraigned on Monday before Justice John Tsoho of the federal high court on a 16-count charge to which he pleaded not guilty.
Ngwuta was among the 7 senior judges whose residences were raided by operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS, in October on allegations that they collected bribes in order to deliver controversial judgements.
His lawyer, Kanu Agabi, asked the trial judge to grant his client bail on self-recognition; an application that was vehemently challenged by the prosecution counsel, Charles Adeogun who maintained that the accused person could tamper with or outrightly destroy evidence if granted bail.
Adeogun also said that the defendant could jump bail since he possessed four international passports.
He said: “Barely 20 minutes after he was granted administrative bail, one of the witnesses received a call from the defendant. During that call a number of instructions were given to the witness: ‘get rid of those cars. Go into my bathroom, in my residence where you will find three bags’.
“That same witness came back to the house, removed three luxury cars and concealed them. Days before his residence was raided on October 8, the defendant had four valid passports.
“We object to bail being granted because we are of the opinion that the defendant may conceal or destroy evidence,” Adeogun added.
In his response, the defence counsel maintained that the offence his client was alleged to have committed was bailable and as such, there was no need to remand him in custody.
Justice Tsoho, having listened to both parties, held that the offence allegedly committed by the accused person was bailable.
“I hold the offence is bailable,” he said. “I hereby rule that the defendant be granted bail in the sum of N100 million in self-recognizance.”
Ngwuta, who hails from Ebonyi State in South East Nigeria, had written to the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed, shortly after his arrest by the DSS, alleging that his ordeal was being orchestrated by two cabinet members of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He claimed that he was being persecuted for refusing at different times to do the biddings of Ogbonnaya Onu and Rotimi Amaechi, who are now Ministers of Science and Technology and Transportation respectively.