Tuesday, May 16, 2017 6:34 pm
The Federal Government on Tuesday re-arraigned a suspended Justice of the Supreme Court, Sylvester Ngwuta at the Federal High Court, Abuja, on allegations of money laundering and abuse of office.
Ngwuta had earlier been arraigned on corruption related offences based on 16-count charge.
The prosecution had on March 16, slashed the 16-count charge to 12-count.
At the resumed sitting, counsel to the prosecution, Mrs Fatunde Olusegun, sought the leave of the court to further jerk up the number of charges to 13.
Justice John Tsoho went ahead to grant Olusegun’ prayer which necessitated the re-arraignment of the defendant.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the entire 13-count charge was read to Ngwuta, but he pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
NAN reports that the additional charge accused the defendant to have given false information to the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in order to obtain additional diplomatic passport.
In a related development, the fourth prosecution witness, Tanimola Alao, a staff of the Department State Service (DSS), while testifying, said he met the defendant on Oct. 9, 2016.
Alao said he was directed by the department to witness the defendant’s statement.
He said those agents that took the statement had followed the procedure as he (Ngwuta) was given a cautionary word before writing the statement.
“My Lord, he was not forced or intimidated to write the statement he generated by himself.
“After he had finished, I signed the defendant’s statement form which was counter signed by the Chief Investigator,’’ he said.
Also, John Otazi, the fifth witness, narrated the sequence of the event that took place at the defendant’s residence during the search.
Otazi told the court that the DSS agents that went for the operation were hindered by policemen and security guards at the defendant’s apartment.
According to him, the defendant’s guard tried hard to abort the operation in spite the display of the search warrant.
The witness further stated that after they had gained entry, the defendant led the team to his bedroom for the search.
“During the search we found large sums of foreign currencies in a bag inside one of the defendant’s wardrobe,’’ he said.
Otazi also said the defendant led the team to his study room where they discovered some bank statements, building plans, documents relating to the defendant’s salary and some vehicles papers.
“At the end of the search, the items recovered were recorded at the back of the search warrant and was given to the defendant who read and signed,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the court admitted the defendant’s statement and search warrant in evidence at the instance of the prosecution’s request.
The judge adjourned the matter until May 17 for cross examination and continuation of hearing. (NAN)