Assets declaration: CCT slates Thursday to decide Onnoghen’s fate

THE Code of Conduct Tribunal, (CCT) has slated Thursday, April 18, 2019, to deliver judgment in the six-count charge of false assets declaration preferred against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen by the Federal Government.

The chairman of the three-member panel of the Tribunal, Danladi Umar which fixed the date to deliver the judgment also disclosed that rulings will be delivered on the same date in the two motions, filed earlier by Onnoghen, wherein he challenged the jurisdiction of the Tribunal and, also praying that the Tribunal chairman should recuse himself from the trial on account of bias.

At the adoption of final addresses by Onnoghen’s counsel, Okon Nkanu (SAN) and the prosecution counsel, Alhaji Aliyu Umar (SAN), the Tribunal chairman announced that judgment and ruling would be delivered simultaneously on that same Thursday.

While adopting his final address, Onnoghen’s counsel prayed the Tribunal to dismiss the six-count charges against his client on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove the essential ingredients of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Nkanu also argued that a false declaration of asset charge against Onnoghen was unknown to law because it was not clearly defined by the constitution.

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He added that for the prosecution to succeed, the elements of each count in the six-count charge must be well established and its absence, the Tribunal must rule in favour of the defendant.

The counsel particularly faulted the claim of the prosecution that Onnoghen made partial asset declaration, adding that the claim establishes the fact that Onnoghen declared his asset and that if it was done, it raises doubts that must be resolved in favour of the defendant.

Nkanu further told the Danladi Umar-led Tribunal that from Onnoghen’s asset declaration form, which was admitted by the Tribunal as exhibit, was an indication that the claims of the suspended CJN were not verified by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) as required by law and, therefore, the charges against his client were based on hearsay.

The defence counsel, therefore, prayed the Tribunal to dismiss the entire charges, discharge and acquit Onnoghen from the alleged offences.

The prosecution counsel, Aliyu Umar, while adopting his written address, informed the Tribunal that all the essential ingredients of the charges have been proved beyond all reasonable doubts and prayed the Tribunal to uphold his submission.

Umar insisted that the defendant did not declare his asset between 2005 and 2015, adding that when he did so on December 14, 2016, five bank accounts with Standard chartered bank opened between 2009 and 2011 were not declared.

He therefore, urged the Tribunal to hold that the prosecution has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

It would be recalled that the Federal Government had on January 11, 2019, filed a six-count charge, bordering on false and non declaration of asset against Onnoghen at the Tribunal.

Recalled that after Onnoghen’s arraignment on the six-count charge, to which he pleaded not guilty, President Muhammadu Buhari suspended him and appointed Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammad as acting CJN, on the strength of an exparte order the Presidency got from the CCT.

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