ABUJA — With the Federal Government closing its case in the on-going trial of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, where the prosecution failed to prove most of the allegation carried by the media against him, Onnoghen has opted to go for a no case submission.
The Suspended Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen consulting with his Lead Counsel during the continuation of the hearing of his case by the Code of Conduct Tribunal at Jabi, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida 11/03/2019 He is currently facing a six-count charge FG preferred against him before the CCT. He had during trial raise the alarm that his assets declaration form before the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, was tamper with.
The embattled CJN, who was suspended from office by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 25, was removed shortly after he fixed date to inaugurate judges that will hear petitions arising from the 2019 general election.
The Federal Government had last week Thursday, closed its case against the suspended CJN after it produced only three witnesses that testified before the tribunal. The first prosecution witness, PW-1, Mr. James Akpala, who is a senior investigative officer at the CCB, had in his testimony, told the tribunal that the charge against Onnoghen was filed before his team concluded investigation on the allegation that he falsely declared his assets. Similarly, the PW-2, Mr. Awal Yakassai, who is a retired Director at the CCB, told the Mr. Umar led three-man panel that contrary to what was alleged in the media, he said the suspended CJN owned only five houses. He said it was not true that CCB investigators linked the ownership of 55 houses to the defendant. The witness made the disclosure after he was shown copies of Justice Onnoghen’s asset declaration forms, which FG tendered in evidence before the CCT. The embattled CJN was said to have submitted the forms marked as Exhibit 2 and 3, to the CCB in 2014 and 2016. Answering questions under cross-examination, the PW-2, admitted that the CCB was yet to verify Justice Onnoghen’s assets with a view to finding out if he made false declarations, before a charge was filed against him. More so, the PW-3, Mr. Ifeoma Okagbue, a staff of Standard Chartered Bank in Abuja, told the tribunal that it was not true that the defendant possessed either $1million or £1million in any of the five bank accounts that necessitated the charge. Okagbue who told the tribunal that she started managing Onnoghen’s bank accounts since 2015, gave a load down of both the opening and closing balance of all the accounts from January 2018 to January 2019.
She said the accounts were all linked to one Bank Verification Code, BVN, adding that the bank had upon securing an approval from the defendant, diverted funds from the accounts into various profit yielding ventures. The PW-3 told the tribunal that profits that accrued from the investments were credited back into the accounts. While two of the accounts are in Naira, the three others were Pounds Sterling, Euro and Dollar accounts. The witness told the tribunal that all the accounts were domiciliary, and were opened and managed at the branch of the bank in Wuse 2, Abuja.