- A senior official at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) confirms that his team was investigating Onnoghen when charges against the CJN were filled
The investigator, James Akpala, gives details of how the investigation was carried out by his team
- Akpala says the investigation of the petition against Onnoghen was concluded on January 11
Investigations into the petition against Walter Onnoghen, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), were still ongoing when the federal government filed charges against him, a senior official at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) has said.
James Akpala confirmed that the charges against Onnoghen at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) were filed before his team concluded investigation into the petition, according to a report by Vanguard.
While being cross-examined on Monday, March 18, during the ongoing trial of the case against the suspended CJN, Akpala told the tribunal he was not aware that the CCB had a central register where asset declaration forms submitted to it by public officers are kept.
“I have never worked in the department where asset declaration forms are issued to public officers.
“I have never worked in the department where the forms are verified,” he said while saing the petition was delivered to the CCB on January 9, and forwarded to his team for investigation on January 10.
He said his team requested for records of Onnoghen’s accounts from the bank on January 11.
However, while this was on, the charges were filed on January 10.
“As at January 10, we had not taken the statement of the defendant. We concluded our assignment on January 11.
“We requested for documents and they were forwarded to us, which we examined. Based on examination we conducted on the documents, the charge was filed…We finished our report at about quarter to 3pm.
“The report was addressed to the deputy director, intelligence, investigation and monitoring,” he said.
Asked if he knew that the charges were filed before the conclusion of the investigation, he said: “My lord I cannot answer this question. All I know is that we filed our report after we obtained statement of the defendant. We were not aware that the charge was already filed.”
He narrated how the investigation was conducted sauing: “After the routine investigation process, the team wrote to the department of federal political office under the CCB requesting for the defendant’s asset declaration records from 2000-2019.
“The two assets declaration forms that the team received were examined and filed in the case file. Other members on the team include Abu Simon Isaac, deputy director and Samuel Madujemu, assistant director all of intelligence, investigation and monitoring.
“The petitioner was invited to make a statement and his statement was filed in the case file.
“On January 11, having examined the defendant’s asset declaration forms, the receiving officer, Auwal Usman Yakasai was invited and the schedule officer, Ikpeme Etim Amba, was equally invited and their statements recorded,” he said adding that the team proceeded to the bank in question to request for the defendant’s account statement, account opening documents and certificate of identification.
“The bank responded. During examination, the team realised that the account opening package was incomplete and the account officer, Ifeoma Okagbue, was notified.
“She now came on March 6, with the complete account opening document and her statement was recorded. On January 11, at about 12noon, the team visited the defendant at his office at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Abuja. We met his secretary, Jane Esu Edu, who led us to him.
“He read through the petition and gave an oral explanation to the team concerning the allegations contained in the petition.
“My superior, Madujemu, asked him if he was willing to record his oral explanation in writing or the team should go and come back some other time. The defendant said he was willing to record his oral statement.
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“He brought out a plain paper but the team informed him that CCB has a cautionary form for statements and he was informed that he needs a witness to observe the writing of the statement who could be a lawyer or a reputable person.
“The defendant called his secretary, Jane Esu Edu, to witness the statement. She sat beside the defendant and the defendant recorded his statement in his own handwriting.
“Intermittently, he went to his inner chamber to seek audience with his visitors. After some time, he came back, continued and ended the statement. The defendant signed the statement and leader of our team, Mr Madujemu and myself counter-signed.”
Legit.ng earlier reported that Justice Tanko Muhammad, who is the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) said that he was not aware of the suspension of Onnoghen until he was called to the Presidential Villa.
Justice Muhammad reportedly said this in a response to the query issued against him by the National Judicial Council (NJC), on accepting to be sworn in as acting CJN without the approval of the NJC.
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