The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has fixed today, Thursday, April 18, for its final judgment in the charges of false and non-declaration of assets instituted against Justice Walter Onnoghen, who reportedly resigned as the Chief Justice of Nigeria on April 4.
The Danladi Umar-led three-man bench fixed the date for judgment after the prosecution led by Aliyu Umar (SAN), and the defence led by Okon Efut (SAN), adopted their final addresses.
He was arraigned by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), following a petition brought against him by a group, the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative, headed by a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu State, Denis Aghanya.
Onnoghen was charged on six counts, for allegedly failing to declare some of his accounts in the asset declaration form submitted to the CCB in December, 2016.
According to the charge, Onnoghen also failed to declare his assets after the expiration of his declaration form filled in 2005.
During the proceedings, the defence, in their final arguments, maintained that the prosecution failed to prove the six counts beyond reasonable doubt as required by law and urged the tribunal to dismiss the case.
It added that the charges against Onnoghen were incompetent and unconstitutional as they were based on the provisions of the Code of Conduct Tribunal and Bureau Act which were in conflict with the relevant provisions of the Constitution.
As Nigerians await the final judgement on the Onnoghen's case, Legit.ng will be bringing live updates of the trial as it unfolds.
Apr 18 9:32 AM
Trial adjourned til 12 noon
The trial has been adjourned till 12 noon. A court official who spoke to Legit.ng's reporter said the trial has been postponed until 12 noon. However, the official did not give any reason why the mater was adjourned.
Apr 18 12:01 PM
Justice Onnoghen arrives CCT for the final judgement.
Justice Onnoghen arrives CCT for the final judgement. Source: UGC
Justice Onnoghen is facing charges of false and non-declaration of assets. Source: UGC
Apr 18 12:16 PM
Chairman Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar arrives CCT
The chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar has also arrived.
Tribunal clerk calls the matter between the federal government and Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Apr 18 12:18 PM
Prosecution and defence teams announce appearance
Musa Usman announces his appearance for the prosecution alongside his other colleagues. Okon Nkanu announces appearance alongside other colleagues for the defendant.
Prosecution informs the tribunal chairman that the matter is for judgement and pending rulings
Apr 18 12:22 PM
Tribunal chairman speaks
The tribunal chairman said the first ruling will be on the suit challenging the tribunal's jurisdiction.
"The first ruling which we'll take right now is on defendants challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal in taking this matter and then we will come to the second one which has to do with jurisdiction too," Danladi said.
Apr 18 12:36 PM
CCT refuses Onnoghen's application that the tribunal lacks jurisdiction to hear the matter
The CCT has refused the application by Onnoghen on the lack of the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the matter.
On Onnoghen's application that the chairman should disqualify himself because he has a case with the EFCC and as such has a bone around his neck and will not be given a fair hearing, Danladi said the chairman of the CCT has no case with the EFCC.
He added that the charges filed before the Federal High Court has been withdrawn by the EFCC.
Danladi further dismisses the prayer of the applicant's defendant. He said: "There can be no CCT without the chairman and that the CCT also is not under the supervision of the National Judicial Council but the Presidency."
He, however, noted that the CCT being under the presidency does not in any way mean that the CCT is bound by the decision of the executive.
He further ruled against the prayers of the defendant for lack of merit.
The tribunal in its judgement said the allegation by the defendant against the CCT chairman is mere suspicion
Danladi after ruling on the two pending applications moves to give final judgement on Justice Onnoghen's trial.
Apr 18 13:20 PM
Brief recap before the final judgement
The tribunal’s chairman, Danladi Umar has dismissed two motions by Onnoghen.
The first challenged the tribunal’s jurisdiction to try Onnoghen when the allegations against him had not been presented before the NJC.
The second asked the tribunal chairman to recuse himself from further sitting on the case on the grounds that he had been charged with demanding bribe.
In its ruling, the CCT said that it has the power to try the ex-CJN, noting that it was trying Onnoghen as a public officer, not as a judicial officer.
Hence it said there was no need to first refer the charge against him to the National Judicial Council (NJC).
Apr 18 13:37 PM
Onnoghen's trial: The final judgement
The CCT in its ruling said partial admittance of forgetting to declare asset by the defendant is enough evidence and that the tribunal has carefully scrutinised all the evidence before it and can say that the defendant is in clear breach of the CCB Act.
Sentence: The CCT after its scrutiny has come to the conclusion that the defendant carefully omitted declaration of his asset in his CCB form 1.
That the defendant is clearly guilty of false declaration of his asset on his asset declaration form.
Danladi further asked Justice Onnoghen if he had anything to say.
To this Justice onnoghen said he had nothing to say.
Continuing, the chairman of CCT said the tribunal hereby rules that: 1. The defendant is hereby removed as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and also as the chairman of the National Judicial Council.
2. That the defendant has also been banned from holding any public office in Nigeria for the next 10 years.
3. That all monies in the five accounts which were not declared by the defendant be confiscated, seized and forfeited to the federal government as they were all acquired illegally by the defendant.