Accuses FG of shoddy trial
Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, has threatened to strike out the 10-count charge brought against a Supreme Court judge, Justice Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta, by the federal government if its lawyer refuses to proceed with trial on February 20.
The tribunal lambasted government over the poor and shoddy manner that it is trying the judicial officer, following another adjournment at the instance of the federal government.
The trial was slated for yesterday, but Barrister Julius Kolawole, who announced his appearance for the federal government, demanded for an adjournment, a motion that angered the Tribunal Chairman, Danladi Yakubu Umar.
Kolawole told the tribunal that the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, had engaged a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Abeni Mohammed, to take over the trial which started last year without any headway and that the new lawyer needed time to formally takeover the case. At this point, the tribunal chairman cut in and demanded the whereabouts of the newly engaged lawyer and was told that he was not present in court.
The tribunal chairman, who was furious with the explanation, reminded the government’s legal team that the matter was for definite trial, having suffered a series of adjournments from the same government that brought the criminal charge against the Supreme Court judge.
Umar told the federal government’s legal team that his tribunal is a serious court for serious complainants and any attempt to scuttle the definite trial would be resisted and the charge may be struck out.
The tribunal chairman, however, granted the adjournment requested and shifted the matter for definite trial on February 20 with a warning that the charge maybe terminated that day if the federal government comes up with any excuse to abort the definite trial.
‘‘The next adjourned date of February 20 is for definite, definite, definite trial and we will not tolerate any request for an adjournment. This is a serious court of justice that must be respected’’.
Another member of the tribunal, Mr. Willaims Atedze, lambasted the federal government for taking the tribunal for a ride in the prosecution of a high profile case. “One of the salient points in our law profession is that lawyers are supposed to be men of honour, but the contrary appears to be the case in this instant matter. This matter has been consistently adjourned at the instant of the federal government for no just cause and this is not good in any criminal trial.”
The federal government had last year slammed a 10-court charge against Justice Ngwuta bordering on false declaration of assets and money laundering although the apex court justice pleaded not guilty to the charge, the federal government has been unable to open its case against the judge since last year, but instead changed its lawyers several times to stall the trial.
At yesterday’s proceedings, Kanu Agabi, SAN, stood for the defendant and was supported by another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Paul Erokoro.