The Code of Conduct Tribunal on Tuesday fixed March 21 for ruling on an application filed by a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, seeking an order dismissing the false assets declaration charges instituted against him by the Federal Government.
The Danladi Umar-led Chairman of the CCT fixed the date for ruling after the tribunal heard arguments by the prosecution and defence lawyers on the application.
Justice Ngwuta’s application was anchored on the recent judgment of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal which on December 12, 2017 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 against Justice Nganjiwa by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on the basis that a serving judge could not be investigated or prosecuted without first being disciplined by the National Judicial Council.
Justice Ngwuta argued 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 him were incompetent because complaints forming the charges were never referred to the NJC before the charges were instituted.
The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation had on April 20, 2017 arraigned Justice Ngwuta before the Danladi Umar-led CCT on eight counts of false assets declaration and another alleged breach of code of conduct for public officers.
The Justice of the Supreme Court is also being prosecuted by the AGF office before the Federal High Court in Abuja on money laundering and passport fraud charges.
But his trial since his arraignment before the CCT in April 2017 had yet to commence when on January 9, 2018, he filed his motion on notice urging the tribunal to bow to the Court of Appeal’s judgment in Nganjiwa’s case by dismissing the eight counts.
His application filed by his lead counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), seeking “an order dismissing this suit for lack of jurisdiction”, was anchored on six grounds.
However, the counsel prosecuting on behalf of the Federal Government, Mr. Abeni Mohammed (SAN), on Tuesday, opposed the application, urging the tribunal to dismiss it.
The CCT fixed March 21 for ruling.
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