How technicalities helped Supreme Court justice weasel out of money laundering charges

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    The Federal High Court has dismissed all the 13 counts of money laundering and passport fraud brought by the Federal Government against Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court.

    Justice Ngwuta was among the judicial officers the DSS raided their houses in October 2016.

    Trial judge, Justice John Tsoho, however, dismissed all the charges levelled against Ngwuta on Friday.

    Justice Tsoho based his ruling on an earlier judgment of the Court of Appeal, which held that the pre-conditions for instituting charges against a judicial officer were not met before charging Justice Ngwuta.

    The judgement has a precedent in that of the Lagos Court of Appeal delivered on December 12, 2017 which dismissed the corruption charges against a serving Justice Hyeldzira Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court.

    The appeal court dismissed the charges EFCC filed against the Federal High Court judge on the ground that a serving judge can’t be investigated or prosecuted without being first disciplined by the National Judicial Council.

    Justice Ngwuta, through his counsel Kanu Agabi (SAN), had submitted that by virtue of the said Court of Appeal’s judgment in Nganjiwa’s case and the provisions of section 158(1), Paragraph 21(8) of the Third Schedule to the Constitution, the charges instituted against his client were incompetent.

    According to Kanu, going by the judgment of the Court of Appeal, the complaints forming the basis of the charges ought to have been referred to the NJC which could have disciplined him before the complainant instituted the charges.

    No fewer than three of the judges raided have been acquitted by court so far.

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