Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday struck out the 13-count criminal charge brought against a sitting Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta by the Federal Government.
Justice John Tsoho, who relied on a recent Court of Appeal decision involving Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa, held that the condition precedent for arresting or charging a sitting judicial officer to court over corruption related offences were not being fulfilled by the Federal Government.
In the said case in reference, Justice Nganjiwa, was also accused of engaging in acts of corruption,
Justice Tsoho in his judgment, insisted that FG ought to have allowed the National Judicial Council (NJC), the constitutional body vested with the powers to discipline erring judicial officers, to “appropriately scrutinise” allegations against judicial officers, before charging them to court.
“Any direct arrest and prosecution of a judicial officer by security agencies as in the present case should be declared a nullity”, the court held.
The court said it was not in dispute that Justice Ngwuta is a serving judicial officer, stressing that sections 152, 158 and Paragraph 21 Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution are clear and unambiguous to the effect that only the NJC has administrative and statutory powers to discipline judicial officers.”