- Judge pleads not guilty, gets bail on self-recognition
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The federal government thursday arraigned Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on an amended eight-count charge of false asset declaration.
He however pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was granted bail on self-recognition.
Justice Ngwuta was one of seven judges whose homes were raided by the Department of State Services (DSS) last October for alleged corruption.
He was earlier charged for money laundering and passport fraud charges but has not been arraigned.
During yesterday’s arraignment at the tribunal, his counsel, former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) had moved an oral bail application on his client, following his plea.
Agabi, in arguing the bail application, urged the tribunal to grant Justice Ngwuta bail on self-recognition.
Counsel to the government and Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Umar Muhammed did not oppose the application.
Consequently, the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar granted the bail application as prayed.
In the amended charges, the federal government dropped two charges from the initial 10-count charges filed against Justice Ngwuta.
The prosecution dropped the charge of non-declaration of 22 plots of land at Chief Igwe Uga Avenue, Abakaliliki by the Supreme Court justice.
According to the amended charges, he was alleged to have failed to declare a parcel of land and property to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) between June 2, 2011 and July 19, 2016.
The government further alleged that Justice Ngwuta also engaged in the purchase and sale of rice, palm oil and other related products while being a justice of the Supreme Court within the same period.
The Director of Public Prosecution said, in addition to the plots of lands and other business activities, Justice Ngwuta also owns five cars which he failed to declare.
The alleged offences, according to prosecution, were contrary to Section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, Cap C15 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and punishable under Section 23(2) of the same Act.