Nigerian govt says it ‘sacked’ Justice Ngwuta’s lead prosecutor

Justice Sylvester Ngwuta

The Federal Government says the National Prosecution Coordination Committee (NPCC) sacked Charles Adeogun-Philips, the lead prosecutor in the suit against Supreme Court judge, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta for unprofessional conduct.

Salisu Isah, Special Adviser on Media to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, revealed this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.

Mr. Adeogun-Philips had on Thursday, at the resume hearing of the case, announced his withdrawal but did not give any reason for his action.

Mr. Ngwuta is facing trial before Justice James Too on charges of money laundering, age falsification and illegal possession of multiple international passports, among others.

Mr. Isah, who is also Head of Communication and Public Affairs, NPCC, said that Mr. Adeogun-Philips’ sack was conveyed to him in a letter.

He said that the NPCC that engaged the services of Mr. Adeogun-Philips, withdrew the fiat issued to him to prosecute the case over non-disclosure of conflict of interest and for other sundry reasons.

He said the impression given by Mr. Adeogun-Philips suggesting that he withdrew from the case on his own volition was not true.

“The report that he left in protest due to last week Tuesday’s dropping of charges earlier instituted against the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Ahmed Gambo Saleh and two other officials of the apex court which he is also handling cannot be relied upon.

“The insinuation that the attorney-general withdrew the case against the three Supreme Court officials because they are Northerners is also unwarranted.

“The dropping of the suit was done in good faith and in the context of plea bargaining to achieve greater goals in the prosecution of the other bigger cases that are ongoing against Justice Sylvester Ngwuta among others.”

According to Mr. Isah, it is “wicked and childish” for anyone to allude undue colouration to an action taken in national interest and reduce it to a North/South thing.

“This is not the first time such process will be entered into in law, especially so as the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 allows plea bargaining in line with national interest.

“And as a way of precedence, there was a time in the history of this nation that the allegations against Sgt. Rogers, who was accused of killing Kudirat Abiola, were stepped down for him to be used to testify against Maj Hamza Al-Mustapha.

“This was in the case between him and the Lagos State government over the killing of the wife of the acclaimed winner of the 1992 presidential election, late Chief M.K.O Abiola.

“It has now clearly shown that, either corruption is fighting back or simply that some people want to be mischievous and to hoodwink and divert the estimation of Nigerians from the core issues at stake.”

He expressed concern that no one was talking of the “unprofessional conduct” of Mr. Adeosun-Philips who was handling a brief in an ongoing suit at the Federal High Court in Lagos against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He said this amounted to conflict of interest which he failed to disclose when being engaged.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the NPCC, chaired by Mr. Malami, was inaugurated by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo on May 27, 2016.

It is charged with assisting the Attorney- General in the exercise of his prosecutorial powers under Section 150 and 174(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; especially as it involves high profile criminal cases.(NAN)


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