Charles Adeogun-Philips, the Federal Government special prosecutor in the ongoing corruption trial of Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court has withdrawn from the case.
Adeogun-Philips, a prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, ICC, the Hague, made the announcement on Thursday when hearing resumed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, but his reason for pulling out of the case remains unclear.
As a result, a new prosecution team from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, led by senior state counsel, Hajara Yusuf announced that they were taking over the case.
“I have been instructed to inform the court that Mr Charles Adeogun-Philips, the lead prosecuting counsel, will no longer be appearing in this matter,” Yusuf was quoted as telling the court.
“In view of this change, myself and my colleagues will be appearing subject when arrangement will be made in due course.”
After the cross examination of one of the prosecution witnesses, Linus Chukwuebuka, by defence counsel Kanu Agabi, SAN, the new prosecution counsel applied for an adjournment in order to enable the new team put its acts together.
Justice John Tsoho granted the application and adjourned the case to February 13 for continuation of hearing.
Ngwuta has since been suspended as a Supreme Court Justice pending the determination or otherwise of his innocence.
He is facing a 16-count charge of money laundering, possession of multiple travel passports and age falsification.
On Wednesday, a fresh 10-count charge was slammed against him by the federal government before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, for alleged false assets declaration and engaging in private business ventures while still a Justice of the Supreme Court.
Ngwuta, who hails from Ebonyi State, South East Nigeria, was one of the 8 senior justices whose residences were raided by operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS, in October 2016, on allegations of corruption.