The Federal High Court on Friday dismissed all the 13 counts of money laundering and passport fraud instituted by the Federal Government against a serving Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta.
Justice Ngwuta was among the judicial officers whose houses were raided by the operatives of the Department of State Services in October 2016.
He was subsequently charged with various corruption offences by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
Ruling on an application by him on Friday, the trial judge, Justice John Tsoho, dismissed the charges on the grounds.
Justice Tsoho, whose ruling was anchored on an earlier judgment of the Court of Appeal, held that the pre-conditions for instituting charges against a judicial officer were not met before charging Justice Ngwuta.
The judgment of the of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal delivered on December 12, 2017, and which Justice Tsoho relied on on Friday, had dismissed the corruption charges instituted against a serving judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Hyeldzira Nganjiwa.
The appeal court had dismissed the charges instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against the Federal High Court judge on the basis that a serving judge could not be investigated or prosecuted without being first disciplined by the National Judicial Council.
Justice Ngwuta, through his counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), had while arguing his client’s motion, submitted that by virtue of the said Court of Appeal’s judgment in Nganjiwa’s case and the provisions of section 158(1), Paragraph 21(8) of the Third Schedule to the Constitution, the charges instituted against his client were incompetent.
He maintained that going by the judgment of the Court of Appeal, the complaints forming the basis of the charges instituted against him ought to have been referred to the NJC and allowed the NJC to discipline him before instituting the charges.