By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
A former Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of Imo State, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN) has attributed the death of a judge of Nigeria’s Supreme Court, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta to the invasion of deceased’s official residence in Abuja by operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) at 2.a.m in October 2016.
Ume who is a federalist lawyer and rapporteur of the Victims of Persecution, said the manner in which late Justice Ngwuta and his colleagues homes were raided in the wee hours of the night was unfortunate.
Justice Ngwuta had passed on in the early hours of Sunday, March 7, 2021, at the age of 69.
It would be recalled that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government had charged Justice Ngwuta with money laundering and prosecuted him between. 2017 and 2019.The trials only came to an end after a judgement of the Court of Appeal held in 2018 that a serving judge could not be tried unless the judicial officer had been investigated and sanctioned by the National Judicial Council.
While reacting to the jurist’s demise on Tuesday, Mr. Ume described Justice Ngwuta as a “very sound jurist,” whose constituency was “the law and the constitution.”
His words: “Justice (Sylvester) Ngwuta’s death is very unfortunate. It puts in perspective the way we obey the rule of law.
“I believe the way he died and the time he died in his sleep at about 2.a.m on Sunday, and I understand that that could be a protest against the way he was treated at 2.a.m in 2016, when his house was invaded by operatives of the State Security Service.
“The way he died few days to his retirement, might be a way to show that judges ought not to be treated the way they were treated that night.”We cannot see his death as just ordinary; it must be seen from the perspective of a protest,” Ume said.
He advised politicians to respect the constitution that brought them to power, adding that Justice Ngwuta’s passing has put a spot Nigeria’s national life.