© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Supreme Court Justice Charged With Corruption
The Federal Government has filled a 9-count charge of money laundering and corruption against a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Sylvester Ngwuta.
Justice Ngwuta was one of the seven senior Justices whose residences were raided by operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS at midnight between October 7 and 8.
He and the six other judges had since been suspended by the National Judicial Council, NJC, pending the conclusion of investigations into the corruption allegation brought against them.
In the suit, filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, Ngwuta was accused of illegally retaining the sum of N35,358, 000.00 in his possession contrary to the money laundering (prohibition) Act 2011.
He was alleged to have retained in his possession $319,596.00 and 25, 915 pounds which are part of the proceeds of unlawful act contrary to the money laundering Act.
The monies, including the sum of 280 South African Rand, were said to have been recovered from Ngwuta’s home during a search by the DSS.
Also recovered from the Judge’s residence were four diplomatic passports, one official and two standard Nigerian passports all in the name of the defendant.
Ngwuta was accused of allegedly obtaining multiple passports contrary to section 10 of the Immigration Act, 2015 and punishable under the same section.
The charge added that he allegedly made false statement to the Passport Office regarding his date of birth in order to enable him procure an additional diplomatic passport.
He was also alleged to have in his possession two valid diplomatic passports and thereby committed an offence under section 10 of the Immigration Act.
The case file has not to be assigned for trial.
Recall that Justice Ngwuta had, just after the DSS raid on his residence, written a letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Mahmud Mohammed, narrating his ordeal at the hands of the security operatives and claiming that he has no knowledge of how the DSS came about the monies purportedly recovered from him.
He claimed that he had some money in his house but that the amount was nothing near what the DSS said they found.
Ngwuta said: “The only bag that contained money was the small bag I locked with a padlock which I unlocked when ordered to do so. The bag contained the sum of $25,000, £10 and a brown envelope containing the sum of N710,000 which was a monthly allowance paid to me for September 2016.
“In the brief case, which I carry to my office daily, I had the sum of N300,000 and some loose change. The above are the only sums of money taken from me along with my phones, papers and other household items.
“I do not know how they came about the huge sums of money I saw for the first time in my parlour on the early hours of Saturday, October 8,” he stated.