Ibrahim Ndakpoto, the sixth prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Supreme Court judge, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, on Thursday attributed a N12,000 shortfall in money tendered as evidence in court to human error.
When the matter was called, the witness informed the court that when the money was recovered in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, it was counted manually and therefore the only way he could explain the shortfall was human error.
Ndakpoto said: “The money was counted manually and for human beings to manually count over N4.3 million, human error can be expected.”
It would be recalled that the trial judge, Justice John Tsoho, had on Wednesday directed that the over N4 million tendered as exhibit by Ndakpoto be counted before it was admitted in evidence.
Tsoho gave the directive after Ndakpoto, tendered the money as evidence and Kanu Agabi (SAN), counsel to Ngwuta, noted the need for the money to be counted in order to confirm the figure stated by the witness.
Tsoho further directed that the money be counted with the assistance of the accounts department of the court, in the presence of the prosecution, the defence and the registrar of the court.
He agreed that it was necessary to count the money in order to confirm that the amount tendered corresponded with the amount stated by the witness.
Ndakpoto, while giving evidence, told the court that the money was recovered in a house in Abakaliki following information received from one Linus Chukwuebuka.
He said: “Linus Chukwuebuka made revelations that necessitated our search of the house where we found documents relating to property and a bag containing the money.
“Linus told me that Justice Ngwuta called him and asked him to go to his bedroom and remove the documents and the bag containing the money and hide them because if the ‘SSS’ should lay eyes on it, he will be in trouble.
“He also told us that Ngwuta asked him to move some cars, a BMW, a Wrangler jeep and a Hummer jeep, and that he further asked him to disappear afterwards so that he will not be arrested.”
The judge adjourned the matter until January 12 for cross examination of the witness by the defence team.
It would be recalled that in May 2017, the Department of State Security Services and the court disagreed over the amount of money tendered as exhibit by another prosecution witness, John Utazi.
The money in question was said to have been recovered from the residence of Ngwuta by the DSS during a search on the residence on October 7, 2016.
Justice Tsoho had said that he was informed that the Naira denomination in the court’s custody was different from the amount the witness called while giving evidence.
Tsoho said: “I am just receiving the information that there was a problem with the exhibit because the amount announced by the prosecution in respect to exhibit 11h should have been N35,358,000 million but when counted, it was N35,335,840 million.
“So it doesn’t agree with what the witness said as there appears to be a shortfall.”
The witness had however insisted that he counted the money meticulously and that he stood by the figure he had given.