Justice Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta of the Supreme Court has asked the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to dismiss the eight-count criminal charge bordering on the alleged false declaration of assets preferred against him by the federal government since last year.
The justice of the apex court in a fresh motion on notice, obtained by PRNigeria, he filed at the tribunal is claiming that CCT has no jurisdiction to entertain his trial and that the charges brought against him by the federal government were incompetent in the face of the law.
In a motion on notice brought pursuant to Section 158 of the 1999 Constitution and filed on his behalf by his lead counsel, Mr. Kanu Agabi, Justice Ngwuta is claiming that the charges against him were incompetent because they were never referred to the National Judicial Council (NJC) as required by law.
He, therefore, pleaded with the tribunal to dismiss the charges and set him free in line with the provision of Section 158 of the Constitution.
In an 8-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion, the defendant claimed that he is a serving judicial officer by virtue of his appointment into the Supreme Court and that Section 158 provides that Disciplinary Action Against a serving judicial officer shall first be referred to the NJC which has statutory powers to discipline any erring judicial officers. In the instance charge, the defendant claimed that Section 158 was violated by the federal government with its failure to first refer the alleged misconduct to the national judicial council.
The defendant also drew the attention of the tribunal to the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Justice Nganjiwa and federal government were the appellate court held that no criminal investigation nor prosecution can be initiated or instituted in any court of law or tribunal against a serving judicial officer for judicial misconduct or breach of trust of his office without first presenting such allegation to the NJC and a determination thereof by the council.
Justice Ngwuta in the affidavit deposed to by Agabi, claimed that the allegation which brought about the charge were never referred to or and determined by NJC prior to the institution of the criminal charges by the federal government.
The affidavit claimed that until the NJC finds the defendant guilty of an act of misconduct or breach of his oath of office, the federal government cannot institute any criminal prosecution against him.
The affidavit also averred that the charge is premature, incompetent and instituted in violation of provisions of the constitution and as such his liable to dismissal and that the tribunal has no jurisdiction to entertain it.
When the matter came up yesterday, counsel to the federal government, Ahmadu Shehu Mainasara, confirmed that the motion had been served on the Attorney General of the Federation on January 10, 2018 but has not been passed to him to file his response.
He, therefore, urged the tribunal for a final adjournment to enable him link up with the office of AGF for the purpose of doing the needful.
Counsel to the defendant, Agabi, did not object to the request for an adjournment but he, however, draw the attention of the tribunal to the fact that the motion has been served and acknowledged by the office of the AGF since January 10, 2018 without any response from the office.
The tribunal Chairman, Mr. Danladi Yakubu Umar, who took judicial notice of the date the AGF was served, however, adjourned the matter for February 14, 2018 for definite hearing.
24 January, 2018