(Updated) FG to Arraign CJN Onnoghen for Non-declaration of Assets Monday

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Walter Onnoghen

By Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Federal Government will on Monday arraign the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for non-declaration of assets.

A statement by the Head, Press & Public Relations, Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Ibraheem Al-Hassan, Saturday, confirmed the scheduled arraignment of the CJN on Monday, January 14,  on a six count criminal charge bordering on non-declaration of his assets.

Al-Hassan said the arraignment was sequel to an application filed by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to the CCT Chairman Friday for the trial to commence against the Chief Justice of Nigeria.

He added that service of summons had been effected to the Defendant, while the three man panel led by Justice Danladi Umar, will commence the trial on  Monday, 14th January, 2019 at its  courtroom, situated at the headquarter, along Jabi Daki biyu, Saloman Lar way, Abuja, at about 10:00am.

“The application was filed yesterday by the operatives of CCB, dated 11th January, 2019 and signed by Musa Ibrahim Usman (Esq) and Fatima Danjuma Ali  (Esq), containing 6 count charges all borders on non declaration of asset”, part of the statement read.

However THISDAY gqthered that Onnoghen’s arraignment was sequel to a petition filed by a civil society group, Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI), accusing the CJN of false asset declaration and other sundry allegations.

He is also being accused of maintaining Domiciliary Accounts which comprised Dollar Account, Pound Sterling Account and Euro Account which were alleged to be contrary to relevant laws, especially for public office holders.

It was also learnt that the FG in addition plan to file a motion on notice praying the tribunal to order the CJN to vacate office and recuse himself from any aspect of the case as chairman of the National Judicial Council so as to prevent alleged interference in his arraignment and trial.

The group in the said petition, dated January 7, 2019, said Onnoghen “is the owner of sundry accounts primarily funded through cash deposits made by himself up to as recently as 10th August 2016 which appear to have been run in a manner inconsistent with financial transparency and the code of conduct for public officials”.

The ARDI in the petition claimed the CJN made five different cash deposits of $10,000 each on March 8, 2011, into Standard Chartered Bank Account 1062650; two separate cash deposits of $5000 each followed by four cash deposits of $10,000 each on June 7, 2011; another set of five separate cash deposits of $10,000 each on June 27, 2011, and four more cash deposits of $10,000 each the following day.

The group also alleged that prior to 2016, Onnoghen appeared “to have suppressed or otherwise concealed the existence of these multiple domiciliary accounts owned by him, as well as the substantial cash balances in them”.

For example the group alleged that Onnoghen had a balance of $391,401.28 as at January 31, 2011, in his Standard Chartered Bank  dollar account with account number: 1062650; 49,971 .71 euros as at January 31, 2011, in his Standard Chartered Bank Euro account with number: 5001062686; and E23, 409.66 as at February 28, 2011, in his Standard Chartered Bank Pound Sterling account with number 5001062679.

The group said it believed its petition had established cases of “suspicious financial and other transactions against His Lordship, collusion between His Lordship and various banks related to Suspicious Transactions Reporting (STR) and financial transactions not justifiable by His Lordship’s lawful remuneration at all material times”.

If arraigned on Monday, Onnoghen would be the first Chief Justice of Nigeria to be prosecuted in office over corruption allegations.

Though the President Muhammadu Buhari administration had charged some judges to court over allegations of graft and money laundering, it failed to secure conviction of the judges.

The arraignment of Senate President Bukola Saraki over alleged non declaration of his asset also suffered a similar fate following the quashing of the federal government’s charges by the tribunal.

Saraki’s discharge and acquittal was later upheld by the Supreme Court under the leadership of Justice Onnoghen.

The Six-count Charge against CJN Onnoghen

Count 1 read: That you, Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen CJN, GCON between June 8, 2005 to December 14, 2016 being a public officer, serving as a Judicial Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria failed to declare and submit a written declaration of all your assets and liabilities within the prescribed period of (3) months after being sworn-in as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on the 8 day of June, 2005 and you thereby contravened the provisions of section 15(1) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap 15 LFN 2004 and punishable under section 23(2) a, b and c of the same Act.

In counts 2 to 6, Onnoghen, was accused of falsely declaring his assets by omitting to declare funds in his domiciliary accounts as well as an e- saving accounts both in local and foreign currencies, all in Standard Chartered Banks, Wuse, Abuja.

Count 3

That you, Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen CJN, GCON, being a public officer as a Justice of the Supreme Court is under a duty to declare his assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau on or about December 14, 2016, falsely declare your assets in your asset declaration form CCB 1, after you were sworn-in as Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria by omitting to declare a domiciliary (Euro) account number 93001062686 maintained with Standard Chartered Bank (Nigeria) limited Wuse 2, Abuja, which is being operated since 2011 and you thereby contravened the provisions of section 15(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap 15 LFN 2004 and punishable under section 23(2) a, b and c of the same Act.

Count 4

That you, Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen CJN, GCON, being a public officer as a Justice of the Supreme Court is under a duty to declare his assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau on or about December 14, 2016, falsely declare your assets in your asset declaration form CCB 1, after you were sworn-in as Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria by omitting to declare a domiciliary (Pounds Sterling) account number 285001062679 maintained with Standard Chartered Bank (Nigeria) limited Wuse 2, Abuja, which is being operated since 2011 and you thereby contravened the provisions of section 15(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap 15 LFN 2004 and punishable under section 23(2) a, b and c of the same Act.

Count 5

That you, Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen CJN, GCON, being a public officer as a Justice of the Supreme Court is under a duty to declare his assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau on or about December 14, 2016, falsely declare your assets in your asset declaration form CCB 1, after you were sworn-in as Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria by omitting to declare an e-saver savings (naira) account number 5001062693 maintained with Standard Chartered Bank (Nigeria) limited Wuse 2, Abuja, which is being operated since 2011 and you thereby contravened the provisions of section 15(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap 15 LFN 2004 and punishable under section 23(2) a, b and c of the same Act.

Count 6

That you, Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen CJN, GCON, being a public officer as a Justice of the Supreme Court is under a duty to declare his assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau on or about December 14, 2016, failed to declare in your asset declaration form CCB 1, after you were sworn-in as Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria a naira account number 010001062667 maintained with Standard Chartered Bank (Nigeria) limited Wuse 2, Abuja, which is being operated since 2011 and you thereby contravened the provisions of section 15(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap 15 LFN 2004 and punishable under section 23(2) a, b and c of the same Act.