Walter Onnoghen: A compromised tribunal?

Walter Onnoghen, suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria

The Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen is facing a six count charge before the code of conduct tribunal for false declaration of assets. Details surrounding the allegations are that the CJN owns a sundry account primarily funded through as deposits made by himself with issues of inconsistent financial transparency. He was clearly accused by the CCB of failing to declare his asset between 2005 and 2015 although there has not been any report to ascertain this claims.

The trial which commenced on January 14, 2019 had the CJN absent, having the case to be adjourned by the subsequent week.
It will be recalled that the CJN’s suspension has provoked massive comments and criticism towards the Buhari-Led Government by various persons and even legal bodies including the members of the national interest defenders and lawyers whom protested earlier this year at the secretariat of the Nigerian Bar Association
Mr. Onnoghen has argued on Friday that he had no case to answer, implying the charges be dismissed. He has described the allegations against him as invalid, through a statement issued through his counsel, Adeboyega Awolowo, who he added that there was no concrete report to support the allegation. He said the allegation was a mere “hearsay, irrelevant and useless.”
“The defendant has no duty to show that he has filed forms. Where is the proof? There has not been any attempt by the prosecution to prove it,” Mr Awomolo said.

In the documents presented as exhibits two and three as requested by the tribunal, Mr Awomolo has stated that the CCB confirmed that the declaration forms were not verified by the Bureau.

He then added that the Supreme Court had ruled during a similar case involving the Senate President, that such verification was necessary.
“It is mandatory that the prosecution must prove that there is verification of exhibits and two and three, they must show that exhibits two and three have been verified. Otherwise, without verification, there can be no allegation of false declaration or omission,” he said.

Mr Awomolo in his statement also added that the Supreme Court ruled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the State Security Service (SSS) (both whom have been at the helm of vindicating the suspended chief justice) have no business being part of the investigation of the CCB. “So it is illegal,” Awomolo said.
Mr Awomolo has therefore called the documents “strangers.”

Among other things he said, he added that the CCB has failed in producing a certificate to authenticate the computer generated documents presented in court. He has alleged that the failure of the prosecutor to do so has invariably rendered their ‘documents’ inadmissible before the tribunal.

The Tribunal in return has also dismissed Onnoghen’s no-case submission, the panel led by Danladi Uma has stated that the CCB, which is the prosecutor has failed to abide by its guidelines.

This is however a big blow to the CCB as with the irregularities, it has begun to show the world its compromise as one begins to wonder how a sensitive case as such was brought without a proper proof.

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