- A top government official claims embattled CJN Walter Onnoghen may face two fresh trials
- The source reportedly stated that there were three dimensions to the allegations against the CJN and that he may be arraigned before a high court very soon
- The official claimed Onnoghen is the owner of some domiciliary accounts primarily funded through US dollar cash deposits made by himself
- The source further alleged that there were unexplained payments into Onnoghen’s account by lawyers who at the same time were appearing before him for adjudication
Justice Walter Onnoghen, the suspended chief justice of Nigeria, may face two fresh trials on alleged huge deposits in his accounts and cash gifts from some senior advocates of Nigeria.
According to The Nation, in deference to the constitutional provisions on the National Judicial Council (NJC) which stipulates that such allegations against a judicial officer should first be presented to the NJC, the federal government has delayed the arraignment of the CJN.
Legit.ng gathers that a petition and comprehensive report on Onnoghen’s accounts has been submitted to the NJC by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Speaking in confidence with select newsmen, a top government official reportedly said there might be two other cases against Onnoghen, apart from the trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The source reportedly stated that there were three dimensions to the allegations against the CJN and that he (Onnoghen) may be arraigned before a high court very soon.
The source said: “When President Muhammadu Buhari decided to suspend Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen on the 25th of January, 2019, it was in response to serious allegations of irregularities, illegalities and criminal conduct contained in petitions submitted against the top judicial officer, and indeed some findings of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which not only substantiated those petitions but threw up even more damning facts.
“Since then, there have been several public revelations and judicial proceedings which are sometimes confusing to members of the general public.”
“For clarity, there are two different cases currently ongoing before constituted panels and a separate ethical issue in the public domain,
“The first point of focus has been the failure of the chief judge to declare his assets immediately after taking office and every four years thereafter, as required by the 1999 Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, and the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.
“This particular illegality has been admitted in writing by the Chief Justice himself and is a matter for criminal prosecution now before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
“But we must note that because of its specialised nature, CCT has a narrow jurisdiction and the case before it is confined to the issues of asset declaration, failure to declare assets as required by law and false declaration of assets.
“That is what the CCT had been hearing since charges were first filed against the CJN on the 10th of January, 2019.
“The prosecution recently closed its case and lawyers to the suspended CJN are now to open the defence or make a no case submission. Just for clarity, it is worth emphasizing that the CCT will only treat issues relating assets declaration.”
The source went further: “The more interesting aspect of the suspended CJN’s dilemma involves allegations of several breaches of the criminal and anti-corruption laws, including money laundering, bribery and tax evasion.
“It is alleged, for instance, that the suspended CJN is the owner of some domiciliary accounts primarily funded through US dollar cash deposits made by himself.
“More disturbing is the pattern of deposits which, according to EFCC, were made in a manner inconsistent with financial transparency and the code of conduct for public officials.
“These include instances of repeated cash deposits of 10,000 US dollars each, totaling close to two million dollars.
“These serious allegations would ordinarily have gone to the high court for prosecution, but for a case precedent which stipulates that such allegations against a judicial officer should first be presented to the National Judicial Council, more or less an internal disciplinary panel for erring judicial officers, before being prosecuted in a criminal court.
“The allegations of unexplained wealth, huge cash deposits being made into the suspended CJ’s naira, dollar and pound sterling accounts directly from the court and well beyond his estacode and other allowances; unexplained payments into the suspended CJN’s account by lawyers who at the same time were appearing before him for adjudication, etc, are currently being handled by the NJC and would be filed in court after the NJC has made its decision on them.”
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Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that the lead prosecutor in the trial of Justice Walter Onnoghen said that the federal government did not table an allegation of undeclared $3million against the suspended CJN before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The lead prosecutor, Aliyu Umar (SAN), who made the disclosure on Saturday, March 23, also said all the six charges against Onnoghen made no references to 55 houses.
According to him, the federal government only accused Onnoghen of breaching the Code of Conduct Act with his failure to declare and disclose five Standard Chartered Bank statements of accounts in his asset declaration form.
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