By Eric Ikhilae, Abuja

The Supreme Court has given insight into how one of its 20 judicial officers, Justice Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta died in the early hours of March 7, 2021.

According to the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Hadizatu Uwani Mustapha, Justice Ngwuta died around 2.30am on Sunday at the Intensive care unit of the National Hospital, Abuja, after being ill for over a week.

“He felt sick and was admitted, in the last one week, in the National Hospital, Abuja.

“But, before he was moved to the intensive care unit (ICU) of the hospital on Friday, March 5 he tested negative to COVID-19 investigative test conducted on him.

“Hon. Justice Ngwuta was due to retire from the Supreme Court bench on attaining mandatory retirement age of 70 years on March 30, 2021.

“His remain has been deposited in the National Hospital mortuary pending the arrangement for his burial.

“May the late Hon. Justice  Nwali Sylvester Ngwuta rest in perfect peace and may God grant his family, the Judiciary and the apex court the fortitude  to bear the irreparable loss,” the Supreme Court’s Chief Registrar said in a statement on Sunday.

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Justice Ngwurta, who was among some judicial officers subjected to corruption trial in the early days of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, resumed normal judicial duties on September 23, 2019 at a ceremony marking the Supreme Court’s 2019/2020 new legal year.

Justice Ngwuta, who was the third most senior Justice of the  Supreme Court until his death, was suspended from judicial duties in 2016 by the National Judicial Council (NJC) like other judicial officers, whose houses were raided in August 2016 by  men of the Department of State Services (DSS).

He was subsequently charged before the Federal High Court, Abuja with money laundering, and later, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). with failure to declare assets.

Both charges were subsequently struck out in 2018 on account of a decision by the Court of Appeal, Lagos division, to the effect that an erring serving judicial officer must first be taken through NJC’s disciplinary mechanisms before being subjected to trial in the conventional courts, should there be the need.

The late Justice Ngwuta, who was appointed Supreme Court Justice on March 22, 2011, was born on March 30, 1951 in Amofia-Ukawu, Onicha Local government of Ebonyi State.

He had his basic education in the Eastern part of Nigeria and got his LLB at the  University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), lle-Ife, Osun State in 1977 and BL at the Nigerian Law School in 1978.

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