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After corruption trial, Ngwuta, supreme court judge, resumes duty

Sylvester Ngwuta, a supreme court justice who faced trial for corruption, has resumed his official duties.

Ngwuta, who has been absent from the bench since 2016, was seen at a ceremony on Monday in Abuja, where the title of senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) will be conferred on 36 lawyers.

He is the third most senior judge on the bench of the apex court. Bode Rhodes-Vivour is the second most senior while Ibrahim Muhammad, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), is the first.

In October 2016, Ngwuta’s home in Abuja was raided by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).

The secret police claimed it found hard currencies believed to be proceeds of corruption in his residence.

He was asked to step aside from his duties, though his salary was not stopped, to face charges of money laundering brought against him at a federal high court in Abuja.

He also faced charges of false asset declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). But both cases were dismissed in 2018.

The charges were dismissed based on a judgement of the appeal court which held that serving judges cannot be prosecuted until they have been disciplined by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

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However, the CCT overruled itself on this precedent in the case of Walter Onnoghen, former chief justice of Nigeria (CJN).

Onnoghen was found guilty and convicted of false asset declaration in April – without discipline or recommendation by the NJC.

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