UPDATED: Onnoghen Convicted, Banned From Holding Public Office For 10 Years
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has convicted the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, and banned him from holding any public office for the next 10 years.
He was convicted on six counts of false declaration of assets.
The CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar, during Thursday’s proceedings, held that Justice Onnoghen was not being charged as a judicial officer but an ordinary public officer and as such, the ruling in Justice Ngajiwa vs the Federal Government does not apply to the Tribunal.
He stated that the Tribunal had jurisdiction to try the defendant and that his prosecution was competent without regards to Section 158 Subsection 1.
In relation to the previous decision by the Tribunal in the trial of a Justice of the Supreme Court, he noted that the tribunal was at liberty to reverse itself, especially if that decision was taken with the wrong impression.
Mr Danladi also ruled on an application that the CCT Chairman should recuse himself because of a case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He held that the prosecution has been able to prove that there was no case against him before the anti-graft agency.
The Tribunal chairman stated that the EFCC had withdrawn the case against him on November 1, 2018.
He added that the Tribunal is not an appendage of the Presidency and there is a CCT without the chairman and as such, the Tribunal rejects the application.
Delivering judgment, Mr Danladi held that the Tribunal considered the submission of the prosecution and the statement and evidence before it.
He explained that they found them worthy of consideration and more than enough to hold the view that the defendant has contravened the provisions of the Code of Conduct for public officers.
The CCT chairman said it was contained in evidence six where the defendant admitted by himself that he forgot, adding that the issue of partial declaration does not arise.
He held that the Tribunal believed the facts that were before it since the defence could not disprove it, saying it was “crystal clear” that the defendant was in clear breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.
Reading the sentence, Mr Danladi said the Tribunal came to the conclusion that the defendant has falsely declared his asset by failing to declare the five accounts listed in the charge sheet.
He asked the defence team if it has anything to say and the team and Justice Onnoghen answered in the negative.
The Tribunal, thereafter, convicted Justice Onnoghen and removed him from office as the CJN and Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
Justice Onnoghen was also banned from holding public office for the next 10 years and ordered to forfeit all five accounts said not to have been declared by him between 2009 and 2015.
The Tribunal held that the Federal Government had proven beyond reasonable doubt that Justice Onnoghen breached the Code of Conduct for public officers.
Timeline: Onnoghen’s Tenure And Trial
October 10, 2016: NJC recommended Justice Onnoghen as CJN to President Muhammadu Buhari.
November 11, 2016: As most senior at the Supreme Court Justice Walter Onnoghen took over leadership of the judiciary in an acting capacity.
February 7, 2017: Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo transmitted Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation as substantive CJN.
March 1, 2017: Senate screened and confirmed Onnoghen.
March 7, 2017: Onnoghen was sworn in as the 17th substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) by the acting President, Yemi Osinbajo.
READ ALSO: CCT Commences Judgement For Onnoghen’s Trial
January 7, 2019: A civil society group, Anti-corruption, and Research-based Data Initiative (ARDI), petitioned the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), listing a number of allegations against Justice Onnoghen notably non-declaration of assets.
January 12, 2019: The CCB announced that it had filed a six-count charge against Onnoghen at the CCT.
January 14, 2019: Trial began at CCT with Justice Onnoghen absent
January 22, 2019: The Federal Government asked Onnoghen to step aside from office.
January 25, 2019: Onnoghen was suspended and replaced by Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad.
January 26, 2019: The United States issued a statement on Onnoghen’s suspension.
January 29, 2019: Onnoghen sued the Federal Government over his suspension.
January 30, 2019: Onnoghen lost bid to stop his trial at the CCT.
February 13, 2019: CCT ordered Onnoghen’s arrest.
February 15, 2019: Onnoghen finally appeared at CCT and pleaded not guilty.
April 1, 2019: Onnoghen opened defence at the tribunal.
April 3, 2019: Onnoghen closed defence at CCT.
April 4, 2019: Onnoghen reportedly resigned as CJN.
April 15, 2019: Tribunal fixes Thursday 18th April to deliver judgment on Onnoghen’s trial.
April 18, 2019: CCT removes Justice Onnoghen as CJN, bans him from holding public office for the next 10 years.