CCT CONVICTS SUSPENDED CJN ONNOGHEN BANS HIM FOR 10 YEARS
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has convicted the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, and banned him from holding any public office for the next 10 years.
He was convicted on six counts of false declaration of assets.
The CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar, during Thursday’s proceedings, held that Justice Onnoghen was not being charged as a judicial officer but an ordinary public officer and as such, the ruling in Justice Ngajiwa vs the Federal Government does not apply to the Tribunal.
He stated that the Tribunal had jurisdiction to try the defendant and that his prosecution was competent without regards to Section 158 Subsection 1.
In relation to the previous decision by the Tribunal in the trial of a Justice of the Supreme Court, he noted that the tribunal was at liberty to reverse itself, especially if that decision was taken with the wrong impression.
Mr Danladi also ruled on an application that the CCT Chairman should recuse himself because of a case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He held that the prosecution has been able to prove that there was no case against him before the anti-graft agency.
The Tribunal chairman stated that the EFCC had withdrawn the case against him on November 1, 2018.
He added that the Tribunal is not an appendage of the Presidency and there is a CCT without the chairman and as such, the Tribunal rejects the application.
Delivering judgment, Mr Danladi held that the Tribunal considered the submission of the prosecution and the statement and evidence before it.
He explained that they found them worthy of consideration and more than enough to hold the view that the defendant has contravened the provisions of the Code of Conduct for public officers.
The CCT chairman said it was contained in evidence six where the defendant admitted by himself that he forgot, adding that the issue of partial declaration does not arise.
He held that the Tribunal believed the facts that were before it since the defence could not disprove it, saying it was “crystal clear” that the defendant was in clear breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.
Reading the sentence, Mr Danladi said the Tribunal came to the conclusion that the defendant has falsely declared his asset by failing to declare the five accounts listed in the charge sheet.
He asked the defence team if it has anything to say and the team and Justice Onnoghen answered in the negative.
The Tribunal, thereafter, convicted Justice Onnoghen and removed him from office as the CJN and Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
Justice Onnoghen was also banned from holding public office for the next 10 years and ordered to forfeit all five accounts said not to have been declared by him between 2009 and 2015.
The Tribunal held that the Federal Government had proven beyond reasonable doubt that Justice Onnoghen breached the Code of Conduct for public officers.