Controversy is trailing the N35million the Department of State Service, DSS, allegedly recovered from the official residence of Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court who is facing money laundering charges.
At the resumed trial of Justice Ngwuta before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Friday, the presiding Judge, Justice John Tsoho, revealed that part of the money was missing.
The DSS had through one of its investigators, Mr. John Utazi, insisted before the court that the total amount of local currencies it recovered from the defendant’s home was N35,358,000. It equally gave details of foreign currencies recovered after a “sting operation” it conducted at Ngwuta’s residence on October 8, 2016, as £35, 0915 (Pound Sterling), $319,096 (United States Dollars), R50 (South Africa Rand), €280 Euros, 380 United Arab Emirates Dirhams and 420 Gambian Dalasis.
However, before transferring the monies which government lawyer, Mrs. Olufemi Fatunde tendered into evidence in nine bags and boxes, to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for safe-keeping, Justice Tsoho ordered that it should be recounted. Though the Judge directed that the foreign currencies should be counted in bundles since they were already wrapped and sealed, he said the Naira which were in loose currencies, should be recounted in presence of representatives from the prosecution, the defence and an official of the court.
Justice Tsoho who equally rejected request by the prosecution counsel for the monies to be counted at the CBN, stressed that it should be done with counting machine of the court. Meantime, at the resumed hearing of the matter on Friday, Justice Tsoho revealed that N22,160. 00 was missing from the money while FG claimed that it tendered a total of N35,358,000, the Judge disclosed that only N35,335,840 was tendered before the court.
Sequel to the development, the court gave Ngwuta’s lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, the nod to cross-examine the witness, Mr. Utazi, who is the fifth prosecution witness in the matter.