Nigeria charges Supreme Court judge with corruption

2016-11-22 08:37


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Abuja - A Supreme Court judge in Nigeria was charged on Monday with money laundering and immigration offences, the latest development in a controversial crackdown on the country's judiciary.

Justice Sylvester Ngwuta was one of seven judges arrested in October during an unprecedented nation-wide sting operation by Nigeria's secret police in connection with alleged corruption.

Ngwuta appeared in a Federal High Court in the nation's capital of Abuja in connection with laundering over $1.7 million in naira, dollars and pounds between January and October 2016.

Prosecutors alleged Ngwuta was in unauthorised possession of multiple passports, including diplomatic passports.

The 65-year-old, who appeared nonplussed in court wearing a blue suit with a red tie and matching pocket-square, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Defence lawyer Kanu Agabi argued for judge John Tsoho to release Ngwuta on bail, but prosecutor Charles Adeogun-Phillips objected, saying Ngwuta tried to tamper evidence following his arrest.

Adeogun-Phillips told the court that Ngwuta made a phone call in an attempt to remove three luxury cars from his house.

The prosecutor added that Ngwuta also asked someone to remove two bags - one with 27 million naira and the other with documents - in his bathroom that were eventually recovered by investigators in November.

Ngwuta was granted 100 million naira bail ($317 000) with the judge adjourning his case to December 7 for trial.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was voted into power in 2015 vowing to stamp out endemic graft in the West African nation.

But critics have claimed that his anti-corruption crusade comes at the expense of the country's economy, which is in the throes of a recession.

Read more on:    nigeria  |  west africa

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