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FG files additional charges against Justice Ngwuta

THE Federal Government, on Wednesday, filed additional criminal charges of money laundering and corruption against Justice Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta, a serving justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, who is currently under investigation of the Department of State Services (DSS) and on suspension.

In an amended charge filed on Wednesday, by a principal state counsel, Hajarah H. Yususf, on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Federal Government increased the charges against Justice Ngwuta from nine to 15.

It will be recalled that following allegations of corruption against Justice Ngwuta, the DSS commenced investigation into his activities which culminated in the execution of a search warrant in his official residence on October 8, 2016.

Ngwuta, according to the charge filed before the Federal High Court, Abuja, was alleged to have retained in his possession the sum of N35,358,000.00 contrary to the Money Laundering ( Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended).

It was alleged that the defendant also retained in his possession the sum of $319,596.00 (USD) and (GBP) 25,915, all of which, according to the prosecutors, formed part of the proceeds of unlawful act contrary to the Money Laundering Act.

Several sums of cash were allegedly recovered, including N35.3 million, $319,596.00(USD), 25,915 pounds sterling and 280.00 EURO. The search, according to the prosecutors, also revealed four diplomatic passports, one official and two standard Nigerian passports, all in the name of the defendant.

The accused Justice of the Supreme Court was alleged to have obtained multiple passports contrary to Section 10 of the Immigration Act, 2015 and punishable under the same Section.

He was alleged to have made false statement to the passport office concerning his date of birth for the purpose of procuring an additional Diplomatic Passport for himself.

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.

One of the counts read: “Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta, adult, “M”, 65 years of 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).”

The case is yet to be assigned to any judge as at the time of filing in this report.

In count 10 of the charge, Ngwuta is accused of submitting multiple applications to a passport office with the intention of obtaining multiple passports contrary to Section 10 (1) (d) of the Immigration Act 2015 and punishable under Section 10 (1) of the same Act.

In the statement of offence in count 14, the Justice of the Supreme Court was accused of submitting multiple applications to the passport office with the intention of obtaining multiple passports contrary to Section 10 (1) (d) of the Immigration Act 2015 and punishable under Section 10 (1) of the same Act.

The particulars of offence of count 14 stated that, “Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta, adult, male, 65 years, of No. 2 Yellow Houses, Supreme Court Quarters, Off Shehu Shagari Way, Central District, Abuja, FCT, on the 5th day of April 2016, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, you submitted multiple applications to one or more passport offices with the intention of obtaining multiple standard Nigerian passports for yourself and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 10 (1) (d) of the Immigration Act 2015 and punishable under Section 10 (1) of the same Act”.