The Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, on Friday told a Federal High Court, Abuja, that Sylvester Ngwuta, a suspended justice of the Supreme Court, used two similar standard international passports interchangeably.
Tanko Kutana, a Senior Staff of the service made the claim while being crossed examined by counsel for the defendant, Kanu Agabi.
Mr Ngwuta was among seven superior court judges that were arrested between October 7 and October 8, 2016 after the SSS raided their homes in what it termed a “sting operation.”
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that the defendant is alleged to have been in possession of multiple standard travel passports and stashed foreign currencies in his Abuja home.
The witness said the service was not in the position to doubt the defendant when he showed proof of his missing international passport.
According to him, the service subsequently issued him a new one, based on the strength of the affidavit declaring his old passport missing.
Mr Kutana, however, said the service was taken aback to discover that the defendant was using the two passports stamped with visas simultaneously.
When asked if the action could have been a mistake from the defendant, the witness said the action violated immigration law.
He said it was outright illegality to have and use two standard passports with similar registration number interchangeably.
“My Lord, the new passport was issued to Justice Ngwuta by the Immigration Service, having been convinced that he actually lost the first one.
“The service replaced the lost passport because it had no cause to doubt the affidavit evidence deposed to by the defendant when he reported the loss of the document,’’ Kutana said.
He said the defendant failed to report back to the service when he eventually found the missing passport.
“The forensic report shows that the defendant, Ngwuta using the two standard passports interchangeable, at the time of his arrest on Oct. 7, 2016 by the operatives of the Department of State Service.
“We would not have been here if the defendant had returned the recovered passport to the service when he found it,’’ he said.
The witness who confirmed that four diplomatic passports and two standard passports were found in the possession of the defendant, however, said the forensic analysis on the six passports did not show evidence of forgery
“I did the analysis on the six passports to determine whether there was forgery and by the time I concluded my analysis of the passports I found no evidence of forgery in any of them,’’ the witness said.
He said there were circumstances under which a citizen could have more than one passport, adding that it did not include having two similar ones.
Justice John Tsoho adjourned the trial until October 20.