From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Supreme Court is in mourning with news of the death of one of its Justices, Nwali Sylvester Ngwuta, who passed away in the early hours of Sunday in Abuja.
A statement by the Supreme Court confirming Justice Ngwuta’s death said he died in the early hours of Sunday in his sleep at his official Abuja residence.
The statement, signed by the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Hadizatu Mustapha, expressed regret over the Justice’s death
‘The Supreme Court of Nigeria regrets to announce the death of the Hon Mr Justice Nwali Sylvester Ngwuta, JSC, CFR, by 2:30 am of Sunday, March 7, 2021,’ the statement reads.
‘He felt sick and was admitted in the last one week in the National Hospital, Abuja, but before he was moved to the intensive care unit (ICU) of the hospital on Friday, March 5 he tested negative to COVID-19 investigative test conducted on him.’
‘Justice Ngwuta was due to retire from the Supreme Court bench on attaining the mandatory retirement age of 70 years on March 30, 2021.
His remains have been deposited in the National Hospital mortuary pending the arrangement for his burial.
The late jurist was born in 1951 Amofia-Ukawu, Onicha local government area of Ebonyi State. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Law from Obafemi Awolowo University and was called to Bar in 1978 upon his graduation from the Nigerian Law School.
He began his Law career in 1978 as a State counsel in Benue State Ministry of justice, the same year he established his own law firm. In October 1995, he was appointed as a Judge of the Abia State High Court.
On May 22, 2011, he was appointed to the bench of the Court of Appeal and on May 2013, he was elevated to the bench of the Supreme Court as Justice.
Justice Ngwuta presided over the ruling of the Supreme Court that affirmed Olusegun Mimiko as the governor-elect of Ondo State in the May 2013 governorship election.
He also presided over the ruling of the Supreme Court that affirmed Kayode Fayemi as the governor-elect of Ekiti State in the June 2013 governorship election and was supported by Justices Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad and Suleiman Galadima.
He was one of the Supreme Court Justices arrested by the Department of State Security Services (DSS) on October 8, 2016, on allegations of bribery and corruption.
Although he was charged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the Federal High Court, both courts ruled that only the National Judicial Council could determine whether or not Ngwata would face trial.
In September 2019, Ngwuta resumed his duties as a Supreme Court Justice after a three-year suspension.