A Supreme Court judge, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, was on Monday arraigned before Justice John Tsoho of a federal high court, Abuja.
Justice Ngwuta was arraigned on a fresh 16-count charge.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail on self recognizance. Aside that, he is also expected to sign N100 million bail bond.
The Department of State Services (DSS) had between Oct. 7 and Oct. 8 raided the homes of Justice Ngwuta and some other judges where large sums of money were allegedly discovered.
Consequently, Justice Ngwuta, presently under suspension is being prosecuted on money laundering charges as well as being in possession of multiple valid passports.
In his ruling on the bail application filed by his counsel, chief Kanu Agabi, a senior advocate, the court said the prosecution has failed to show sufficient reason as to why the defendant should not be granted bail, insisting that the offences are bailable and therefore granted him bail in the sum of N100m.
“It will defeat sense of justice not to grant bail to the defendant. It is on record that the prosecution had filed an affidavit of completion of investigation.
“In view of this, the prosecution should maintain honour of consistency” than to claim that the defendant is likely to interfere with witness or evidence when it (FG) had already stated that investigations have been concluded on the matter.
Besides, Justice Tsoho said the court has not been informed that the defendant had attempted to escape or tamper with evidence while on administrative bail.
In dismissing the objection of the FG, the court said it has not been informed that the administrative bail granted the defendant has been revoked.
The court pointed out that it will be wrong to deny the defendant bail based on the allegations of the prosecution “on what he may likely do” if granted bail, adding that the DSS and other security agencies have eagle eyes to thwart any sharp over to be made by the defendant.
Chief Agabi, in. His argument for the bail of Ngwuta, his counsel Kanu Agabi SAN, pleaded with the court to grant bail to the defence on self recognition, in accordance with provisions of Sections 118(2) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015; Sections 6, 35(4), and 36(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Agabi stated that in view of Sections 32, 158,162 of ACJA and Section 35(4) of the Constitution, the onus is no longer on the defence to show that he is entitled to bail.
The Federal Government’s lawyer, Philip Charles told the court that he had filed a counter affidavit in objection to the bail application.
“There is a counter affidavit, we regretably have to object to the application filed by the defence. The defendant in this case has placed all of us in this courtroom in a very difficult situation. Ordinarily, I would not have objected to the bail application because of the calibre of the man involved.
“But we have a peculiar situation here and our reason for opposing the application is basically for two reasons.
“First, there are sufficient grounds that the defendant will interfere with potential witness and or evidence which might be tendered against him.
Secondly, “We also object because regretably we are of the opinion that there is a substantial likelihood that the deendant may conceal or destroy evidence.
The prosecutor disclosed that while under investigation, the defendant made a call to a potential witness in Abakiliki and gave him specific instructions.
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