The trial of Justice Sylvester Ngwuta resumed yesterday before the Abuja division of the Federal High Court where the Federal Government tendered nine bags and boxes filled with local and foreign currencies allegedly recovered from the official residence of the jurist in October 2016, by operatives of the Department of States Security Service (DSS).
Justice John Tsoho directed that the N35 million contained in the bags be deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Justice Ngwuta is standing trial on 13 counts, bordering on money laundering, passport fraud and allegations of retention and concealment of origin of the various sums of money contained in the nine bags and boxes.
On May 16, 2017, the Federal government called its fifth witness, Mr. John Utazi, an operative of the DSS, who narrated how he led a team of other operatives to search Justice Ngwuta’s official residence in Abuja on October 7, 2016.
The witness revealed how huge sums of money in local and foreign currencies, contained in bags and boxes, were recovered at the end of the operation, which was carried out in the presence of Justice Ngwuta.
Testifying yesterday at the resumed trial, Utazi said the bags and boxes contained naira, United States dollars, British pounds sterling, euro, South African rands, United Arab Emirates dirham and The Gambian dalasis.
The bags were later opened in court revealing the cash in them.
Out of the nine items, eight of them contained naira notes, which Utazi said totaled N35,358,000.
He said the ninth bag contained £25,915; $319,596; R50; €280; 380 dirhams; and 420 daisies.
Meanwhile, the prosecution counsel, Mrs. Fatunde, applied that they should be returned to the DSS for onward transfer to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for safe keeping, pending conclusion of the trial.
The application was not opposed by Ngwuta’s lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN).
While granting the request, Justice Tsoho ordered that the monies be recounted in the presence of counsel for the prosecution, the defence and an officer of the high court.
The judge directed that afterwards, it should be deposited with the CBN by the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court in charge of litigation.
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