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Justice Ngwuta’s Trial: FG Sacks Top Lawyer Over Conduct

The Nigerian Government has relieved one of its prosecution lawyers of his duties over a gross misconduct.

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Justice Sylvester Ngwuta
The Federal Government, yesterday, shed light on why the lead prosecution counsel in the trial of Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court, Charles Adeogun-Philips allegedly withdrew from the case last week according to the Daily Sun.
Rather than step down from the case, the federal govermment said it sacked Adeogun-Philips for unprofessional conduct.
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) said Adeogun-Philips was actually sacked by the National Prosecution Coordination Committee (NPCC) which engaged his services.
The AGF, who spoke through his Senior Special Adviser on Media, Salihu Othman Isah, explained that NPCC actually withdrew the fiat issued to him to prosecute the case over non disclosure of conflict of interest and for other sundry reasons.
He further explained that the NPCC discovered that the lawyer was handling a brief in an ongoing suit at the Federal High Court in Lagos, against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which he failed to disclose when he was engaged.
The suit in question involves an Executive Director in a first generation bank, who was alleged to have transferred $40 million into a second generation bank, on behalf of former minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke as part of the $153, 310, 000.00 she was alleged to have siphoned from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The EFCC is currently prosecuting the case before the Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court, Lagos, pursuant to Section 17 of the Advanced Fees Fraud and Other Related Offences Act No. 14 of 2006 as well as Section 44(2) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Government said this unprofessional conduct of the lawyer amounts to conflict of interest.
Isah, who is also head of Communication and Public Affairs, National Prosecution Coordination Committee (NPCC) revealed, in the statement, that Adeogun-Philips’ sack was conveyed to him vide a letter titled, ‘Withdrawal of your name as a member of Team 16 of the National Prosecution Team handling charges No. FHC/ABJ/C/232/16-FRN vs Sylvester N. Ngwuta’, dated February 6, 2017, and signed by Sylvester O. Imhanobe, Esq, Special Assistant to the President on Research and Special Projects who, also, doubles as Secretary of the Committee.
Adeogun-Philips had acknowledged receipt of the letter through an email message dated February 6, 2017, he sent to the Committee secretary and copied to Mr. Muhammed Umar Etsu, the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF).
“I regret to inform you that Malami has withdrawn your membership of the National Prosecution Team.

“Consequently, you can no longer lead Team 16 engaged to prosecute the Charge No. FHC/ABJ/C/232/16-FRN vs S.N. Ngwuta. Furthermore, the fiat issued to you in respect of the case you presently handle is withdrawn,” the letter read in part.

“The Chief Accountant confirmed to me that you have been paid first installment fees which cover services till the close of the prosecution’s case.

“Please return to me all properties of the Ministry/NPCC in your possession, if any,” the letter further added.
Meanwhile, other members of Team 16 of the NPCC, comprising Hajara Yusuf, Dr. M. Lawal Yusufari and Ibrahim Waru remain intact.
In the meantime, a Principal State Counsel in the DPPF’s office, Hajara Yusuf, will lead the team.
The development has rested insinuations that the lawyer withdrew from the case in protest over last 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, Muhammad Abdulrahman Sharif and Rilwanu Lawal, which, he is also handling for the federal government.

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