The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Thursday convicted the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen of false and non-declaration of assets.
Reading the lead judgment, the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, also ordered the immediate removal of Onnoghen from office as the CJN and the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) as well as the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).
The tribunal also ordered the forfeiture of all the monies in the five accounts the prosecution said Onnoghen failed to declare. They are
Domiciliary US Dollar account No. 870001062650 – $56,878*
Domiciliary Pound Sterling account No.285001062679 – £13,730.70.
Domiciliary Euro account No. 93001062686 – €10,187.18.
e-Saver savings (Naira) account No.5001062693 – N12,852,580.52
Another Naira account No.010001062667 – N2,656,019.21.
All the accounts are maintained with Standard Chartered Bank (Nig.) Ltd.
* All balance as at December, 2018, except the US Dollar account
Except the conviction is overturned by appellate court, Onnoghen cannot be pardoned by the president through prerogative of mercy. Section 23(7) of the CCT/B Act provides that: “The provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, relating to prerogative of mercy, shall not apply to any punishment imposed in accordance with the provisions of this section.”
Earlier, the tribunal dismissed the two interlocutory motions filed by Onnoghen, with the first challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal and the second requesting the tribunal chairman to disqualify himself from the trial on allegations of bias. Meanwhile, Onnoghen’s lawyer, Okon Efut (SAN) described the CCT judgment as unconstitutional and a breach of fair hearing, adding that the defence will appeal the judgment.
Addressing journalists after the judgment, Efut said, “Before this day, on 23rd of January, the same judgment had been passed before now removing the CJN without a fair hearing. So, it was a fait accompli, it was premeditated. So, today’s (Thursday) judgment is just a formality.
Photo Credit: Getty