The Federal Government has amended the charges it preferred against a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, raising fresh allegations of money laundering charges involving N505m against him.
The amended charges with case number FHC/ABJ/CR/232/2016, filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja, raised the number of counts from 10 to 14, alleging that the sum of N505m was part of the proceeds of Ngwuta’s “unlawful” activities.
The Justice of the Supreme Court was accused of transferring the total sum of N505m “denominated in naira and US dollars” to a building contractor between January and May 2016.
The Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation which filed the amended charges on Wednesday, alleged that the offences contained in the first four counts of the amended charges were contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 (as amended).
The offences were said to be punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.
The prosecution alleged that the Justice of the Supreme Court transferred the total sum of N130m to Nwamba Linus Chukwuebuka, a building contractor, on January 4, 2016.
Ngwuta was also accused of transferring the sum of N165m to Chukwuebuka “on or about April 2016”.
He was further accused of transferring another sum of N100m to Chukwuebuka “on or about April 2016”.
He was also charged with transferring the sum of N110m to the same person “on or about May, 2016”.
As alleged in the old set of charges, Ngwuta was accused in the amended charges of retaining N35,358,000; $319,596 and £25,915 during the raid on his house by the operatives of the Department of State Services between October 7 and 8.
The various sums of money were also described as proceeds of “an unlawful activity”.
The offences were said to be contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.
Apart from the money laundering charges, Ngwuta was accused of passport offences in counts eight to 14 of the amended charges.
He was accused of being in possession of two valid diplomatic passports and another two valid Nigerian passports when his house was raided by the DSS operatives on October 8, 2016.
The offences were said to be contrary to section 10 (1) (a) and (d) of the Immigration Act 2015 and punishable under section 10(1) of the Act.
The justice of the apex court was also accused of “knowingly making a false statement to the Passport Office concerning his date of birth for the purpose of procuring an additional diplomatic passport” for himself in violation of Section 10 (1) (c) of the Immigration Act.
He was also accused of submitting multiple application forms to one or more passport offices “with the intention of obtaining multiple diplomatic passports” for himself in violation of Section 10 (1) (d) of the Immigration Act 2015 and punishable under Section 10 (1) of the same Act.
The Justice of the Supreme Court was also accused of knowingly making a false statement to “passport office concerning the loss” of his diplomatic passport with number D50000087 on April 5, 2016.
In another count, he was accused of committing a similar offence concerning the loss of his Nigerian passport with number A04389985 on the same date of April 5, 2016.
According to the proof of evidence accompanying the charges, the prosecution has lined up five witnesses against the Justice of the Supreme Court.
They are Aminu N. Ibrahim, Ngo Awoikiega, Tanko Nuhu Kutana, Ogudu Nwadire and Nwamba Chukwuebuka.
Ibrahim is “to testify on the search conducted on the defendant’s residence on or about 7/8 October 2016”.
Awoikiega is “to testify on the investigation/interrogation of the defendant”.
Kutana, an immigration officer, “is to testify on the multiple diplomatic and Nigerian Passports obtained by the defendant”.
Nwadire is “to testify on how as an architect to the defendant between 2014 and 2016, he handled several projects for which he received cash payments totalling $100,000”.
Chukwuebuka is “to testify on how as a building contractor to the defendant between 2014 and 2016, he handled several projects for which he received cash payments from the defendant totalling $1,000,000”.
Justice Ngwuta was among the judges, whose houses were raided by the operatives of the Department of State Services between October 7 and 8.
The DSS alleged that it discovered large sums of money in foreign and local currencies from the raid.
Our correspondent confirmed on Tuesday that charges had not been filed against the other judges even as the AGF had said that there was prima facie evidence against them.
Excerpted From Punch Newspaper
Excerpted From Punch Newspaper