Nigeria files money laundering charges against judge

2016-11-10 13:20
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Abuja - Nigeria has filed money laundering and fraud charges against a supreme court judge as part of a wider crackdown on endemic corruption in Africa's most populous country, court documents showed on Wednesday.

Sylvester Ngwuta, who is suspended along with several other judges, was slapped with a nine-count charge before a federal high court in Abuja on Tuesday.

Ngwuta is accused of illegally keeping the sums of 35.4 million naira ($111 995), $319 596 and 25 915 pounds in his house contrary to the country's money laundering law.

The embattled judge is also alleged to have "knowingly made a false statement" to obtain four diplomatic passports from the Nigeria Immigration Service.

No date has been fixed for hearing of the case.

Ngwuta and six other judges have been under investigation following the overnight raids on their homes last month.

At least seven judges were arrested on October 8 and 9 by the Department of State Service (DSS) accused of taking bribes, triggering an outcry from the bar association and rights groups who described the raids as unprecedented.

Anti-corruption platform 

Millions of naira and other currencies were found in the judges' homes during the raids.

In all 15 judges are said to be under investigation since April.

It was not immediately clear when the trial of the other judges would start, but justice ministry sources said the government would soon file charges against them.

Last week, the National Judicial Council watchdog suspended the judges from duty pending the resolution of their case.

The NJC, which aims to ensure the independence of the judiciary and protect it from government control, also set up a three-member transparency and anti-corruption committee to handle petitions and graft accusations against the judges.

President Muhammadu Buhari was elected last year on an anti-corruption platform, vowing to stamp out the endemic graft that plagues the oil-rich country.

But critics have accused the former military ruler of using his anti-graft crackdown to silence political opponents, but his regime has denied the allegation.

Read more on:    nigeria  |  west africa  |  corruption

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