Trial of Supreme Court judge, Ngwuta stalled

The trial of Justice Sylvester Ngwuta before the Federal High Court, Abuja was on Wednesday stalled.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria Kanu Agabi, lead counsel for the defence filed for adjournment in order to avail him of documentary evidence brought against Ngwuta, alleging that the prosecution team just served him the document few days ago.

The presiding judge, John Tsoho held that the new Administration of Criminal Justice Act allowed five adjournments on instances of parties.

He also said Section 396 of the Act gave wider room for persons charged for criminal offence to be availed the allowance to prepare for trial.

“This opportunity also extends to the psychological and emotion disposition of the defendant.

“However, no defendant that is worth his or her salt would allow criminal charges to hang around him or her. This application has merit and it is upheld.

“The defence team is obliged time to use this period to study the charges, evidence and all other document related to the case.”

Mr. Tsoho said “the trial is adjourned to run between Jan.18 and Jan. 23.”

In his response Philips Adeogun, the prosecuting counsel, opposed the application, as according to him, the defence team was served all relevant processes required to kick start the trial.

“It was based on the assurance that we had satisfied our obligations that we brought our witnesses to court.

“Indeed, we are taken aback that the defendant counsel would move this retrogressive motion. We pray the court to dismiss it.

“After all the Administration of Criminal Justice Act compels accelerated hearing of criminal matters such as this,” he said.

Ngwuta was arraigned before the court on November 21 on a 16-count charge including money laundering and judicial misconduct.

Ngwuta, a suspended Justice of the Supreme Court, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

In the charge sheet, the prosecution stated that Mr. Ngwuta illegally retained N35,358, 000.00, contrary to the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.

The prosecution also accused the judge of illegally retaining in his possession $319,596.00 and 25,915 pounds among others.

Ngwuta was one of the judges arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) on October 7 and 8, and has since been suspended by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

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