Appeal Court To Deliver Judgment In Onnoghen’s Appeal Today

 

The Court of Appeal has has fixed Friday to deliver judgement in the various appeals filed by the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

Justice Onnoghen had filed various appeals concerning his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal where he was tried and convicted for false asset charges.

READ ALSO: Onnoghen’s Conviction ‘A Major Victory’ For Anti-Corruption War, Says Presidency

It is not clear which of the appeals pending at the appeal court will be decided on Friday, but some of the appeals before the appellate court include an appeal against the decision of the chairman of the tribunal mister , Danladi Umar, who refused to recuse himself from the matter on allegation of bias by justice Onnoghen.

Justice Onnoghen is also challenging the legality of his trial at the CCT.

He is also challenging the order of the tribunal which instructed the president to suspend him from office, an order President Muhammadu Buhari relied on to suspend the chief justice.

Tribunal Fixes Thursday To Deliver Judgment On Onnoghen’s Trial

PHOTO: Channels TV/Sodiq Adelakun

 

The Code of Conduct Tribunal on Monday fixed Thursday 18th of April for its final judgment in the charges of false and non-declaration of assets instituted against Justice Walter Onnoghen.

The three-man bench led by Mr. Danladi Umar fixed the date for judgment after the prosecution led by Mr. Aliyu Umar (SAN), and the defence led by Mr. Okon Efut (SAN), adopted their final addresses.

In the course of the proceedings, counsel to Justice Onnoghen Mr. Okon Effiong in his submission says that when the CJN said he forgot to fill his asset declaration form it was not a confession and cannot be held against him.

According to him, confession in law is not straight forward as writing that he forgot did not amount to an admission of guilt.

He also faulted the charge for not following the element of an offence as created by the law.

He also said that the prosecution failed woefully to prove the elements of the offence as contained in the 5th schedule of the constitution and urged that the charges be dismissed.

READ ALSO: Prosecution Team Members Disagree As Onnoghen’s Trial Resumes

PHOTO: Channels TV/Sodiq Adelakun

Addressing the court on a false declaration or false statement. He said the provision talks about a false statement and not a declaration.

He said a false statement that must be verified before it can be determined to be false or not. According to him, they established that there is a declaration but could not establish which if the statement were false cos it was not verified by a verifications authority as envisaged by law.

He concluded by saying they are defective and ought to be dismissed completely.

Responding, the prosecutor Mr. Aliyu Umar adopted the arguments in his final address as his submission and held that the prosecution has proven its case against the defendant beyond reasonable doubt and hold that he is guilty on all six charges.

He added that in coming to a decision whether a person is guilty or not it is the hard facts before the tribunal that will aid the determination.

He said it is a misconception by the defence to think that a charge is null and void because it was not elegantly drafted.

“The defence has not shown that the charges mislead the defendant in any way,” Umar said.

PHOTO: Channels TV/Sodiq Adelakun

He further noted that the statement by justice Onnoghen that he forgot, is an admission of the offence.

Responding on point of law, counsel to Justice Onnoghen Mr. Okon Effiong said that by section 36 of the Constitution a person can only be found guilty and punished only based on the law.

He also said that “the law says substantial declaration and not total” adding that the law makes room for where there is an omission, a person can regularise his form.

Chairman of the Tribunal Mr. Danladi Umar wrote his ruling on the next step in the trial and reserved judgment to Thursday the 18th of April 2019 by 9am.

PHOTO: Channels TV/Sodiq Adelakun

CJN’s Trial: Industrial Court Orders Substituted Service On CCT Chairman

 

 

The National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja has ordered that the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar, be served an interim order and hearing notice, in the suit filed by Peter Abang seeking to restrain the CCT from prosecuting the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

In an ex-parte motion brought by Mr Abang on January 14, seeking to suspend further action by parties to the matter, pending the determination of an application challenging the CCT trial.

The court had made an interim order on January 14,  for the suspension of the trial pending the determination of the suit challenging the charges of false asset declaration at the CCT and also restraining the CCT chairman, Danladi Umar, Inspector General of Police, Minister of justice Abubakar Malami, Senate president Bukola Saraki, NJC and the Federal Judicial Service Commission, from taking further actions pending the determination of the application.

READ ALSO: PFN Condemns Trial Of Justice Onnoghen

When the matter came up for hearing, the claimant’s counsel, Mr James Igwe informed the court that originating processes and the interim order had been served on all the defendants in the suit, with the exception of the CCT chairman.

The presiding judge, Justice Sanusi Kado, ordered that the process and the interim order be served on the chairman of the CCT through substituted means by pasting it at the walls of the CCT.

Justice Kado also held that, hearing notice should be served on all parties and that the interim order made on 14th January restraining the CCT from proceeding with the trial against the CJN Walter Onnoghen, still subsist.

The matter has been adjourned to January 30 for the hearing of pending motion and the substantive suit.

Danladi Umar Remains CCT Chairman, Tribunal Insists

CCT Insists Justice Danladi Umar Is Tribunal Chairman
File photo: CCT Chairman, Justice Danladi Umar.

 

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has insisted that Justice Danladi Umar remains its chairman in the prosecution of public officers who contravene asset declaration laws in the country, as mandated by the Federal Government and the Nigerian Constitution.

CCT Head of Press and Public Relations, Mr Ibraheem Alhassan, made the clarification during an interview with PRNigeria in Abuja.

According to a statement from the media outfit on Thursday, Justice Umar has fixed June 20 and 21 for the trial of public officers from Bauchi and Kwara states, for allegedly violating various provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.

Alhassan, who made the clarification following insinuations in the social media, disclosed that the CCT chairman had promised that all the forthcoming cases in Kwara and Bauchi State would be treated dispassionately to ensure that justice was done.

The supposed defaulters to be arraigned for prosecution by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) are mostly political appointees and civil servants.

The CCT spokesman, however, urged Nigerians to disregard the insinuations concerning the status of Justice Umar in the Tribunal.

He stated that contrary to the reports, the position of the justice and members of the Tribunal are guaranteed by the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the media outfit had interviewed a legal practitioner, Mr Yunus Abdulsalam, who explained that the CCT was established by Section 15(1) of the Fifth Schedule, of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Mr Abdulsalam said, “By virtue of the further provisions in Section 15, the Chairman of the tribunal must be qualified to hold office as a judge of a superior court in Nigeria. Also, the Chairman and other two members are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.”

“The Chairman’s tenure of office ends when attaining the age of 70 and the Chairman cannot be removed by the President except upon an address supported by two-thirds majority of each House of the National Assembly, which means the Senate and House of Representatives praying that he be so removed for inability to discharge the functions of the office,” he added.

The lawyer stressed further that Section 17 clearly stated that anyone holding the office of chairman or member of the CCT should vacate the office when attaining the age of 70.

He said if anybody who held office as chairman or member of the Tribunal for a period of 10 years or more retires at 70, such person would be entitled to a life pension.

Abdulsalam argued that such person cannot be removed from office before the retiring age except in accordance with the provisions of the act.

He, however, stated that, “According to section 18, where the Code of Conduct Tribunal finds a public officer guilty of contravening any of the provisions of the Code of conduct for public officers, such public officer may be directed to vacate the office or seat in any legislative house as the case may be, or, be disqualified from membership of a legislative house and from holding any public office for a period of 10 years or seizure and forfeiture to the state of any property acquired in abuse or corruption of office.”

The lawyer noted that the penalties are without prejudice to any penalty that may be given by a court in cases where the offence was of a criminal nature.

He maintained that CCT has jurisdiction over public officers at all tiers and arms of the government.

FG Queries Magu, Keyamo Over Corruption Charges Against CCT Boss

L-R: Mr Ibrahim Magu, Festus Keyamo, Justice Danladi Umar

 

The Federal Government has queried the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Festus Keyamo, over the corruption charges they filed against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Justice Danladi Umar.

This was revealed in letters signed by the Solicitor General of the Federation, Mr Dayo Apata.

In one of the letters dated February 16, 2018, Mr Magu was ordered to provide his response to the query to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, on or before Tuesday, February 20, 2018.

He is to explain what informed the filing of corruption charges against the tribunal chairman, having been cleared of corruption allegation two times by the same anti-graft agency.

The query titled “FRN vs Danladi Umar request for briefing,” read in part: “I am directed by the honourable Attorney General of the Federation to seek clarification from you as to whether the charges were filed on your instruction or directive and if in the affirmative, what is the compelling basis for doing so?

“This clarification becomes imperative in view of the following background facts. The commission’s investigation report dated March 5, 2015, addressed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation stated as follows: the facts as they are now against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will, therefore, not be sufficient to successfully prosecute for the defence.

“in view of the foregoing, the honourable Attorney General of the Federation requests for your prompt briefing as to the existence of new facts which are contrary to the position in your attached investigation report, sufficient evidence, or other developments upon which the prosecution of honourable Justice Danladi can be successfully based.”

In a separate letter, Mr Keyamo, who was reportedly engaged as a private lawyer by the EFCC to prosecute the CCT boss, was also requested by the AGF to confirm who authorised him to file the corruption charge against Justice Umar.

The EFCC had earlier filed two counts against Justice Umar for allegedly receiving a bribe of N10million from one Rasheed Taiwo, in the charge signed by Mr Keyamo as a private prosecuting counsel for the anti-graft agency.

The CCT boss was also accused of receiving N1.8million through his personal assistant, Gambo Abdullahi, for a favour to be afterwards shown to the petitioner who was standing trial for a criminal offence before the tribunal.

A date of March 15 was fixed for the arraignment of Justice Umar at the High Court of FCT in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Meanwhile, the EFCC had in two separate letters (in 2015 and 2016) to the Federal Government, through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, cleared Umar of any wrongdoing in the alleged N10million bribery allegation made against.

The defendant, Rasheed Owolabi, was standing trial before the CCT chairman on false asset declaration.

[Updated] EFCC Files Corruption Charges Against Code Of Conduct Tribunal Chairman

CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has filed two charges of corruption against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Yakubu Umar.

The anti-graft agency filed the charges against the CCT Chairman on Friday at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

A copy of the charge sheet seen by Channels Television showed that the EFCC is accusing Umar of asking for and receiving a bribe in the discharge of his official duties.

In the first count, the EFCC accused the CCT Chairman of asking for the sum of N10m from one Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo, sometime in 2012, in order to show the said Rasheed Taiwo favour in a charge pending against him.

In the second count, the CCT Chairman is charged with receiving the sum of N1.8m from the said Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo. The money was allegedly paid through Mr Danladi Umar’s Personal Assistant, Alhaji Gambo Abdullahi.

The offences, allegedly committed in the discharge of Mr Umar’s official duties, are contrary to Section 12(1) subsection (a) & (b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2003.

If found guilty, the offence carries a seven-year jail term with no option of fine.

The case has, however, yet to be assigned to a judge for hearing.

Umar, who presided over the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki on charges of false assets declaration, was accused during the trial of soliciting and receiving a bribe in a case he was presiding over.

On April 27, 2016, during a CCT sitting in the Saraki trial, one of the Senate President’s lawyers, Ajibola Oluyede, filed a motion for the disqualification of Umar from the trial.

The motion was based on the allegation that Mr Umar had allegedly obtained a bribe from Rasheed Taiwo, who was a retired Customs official.

Taiwo had reportedly sent a petition to the EFCC in 2014, claiming that the CCT Chairman demanded a N10 million bribe from him.

The motion and the allegation had led to drama at the CCT with a visibly angry Umar denying the claim.

He went on to preside over the Senate President’s trial, eventually acquitting him of the charges of false assets declarations 14 months later, on June 14, 2017.

 

Code Of Conduct Tribunal Finds Orubebe Guilty

Orubebe, CCT, Code of Conduct TribunalThe Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday pronounced former Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Orubebe, guilty of non-declaration of asset.

The asset is in a choice area of Abuja, Asokoro.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, announced a forfeiture of the property.

Justice Umar explained that the testimonies and document presented by the prosecution prove that the former minister is guilty as charged.

He further stated that while the minister claimed that the property was on rent from the federal government, the rejection of the claim by his former landlord to allow him exercise his right over the property rendered the power of attorney useless.

The former Minister had pleaded ‘not guilty’ for two count charges of false declaration of assets and another two counts of bribery when arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar
Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar

Mr Orubebe was charged by the Code of Conduct Bureau for alleged failure to declare landed property in Kyamu and Asokoro district, both in Abuja, on assumption of office as minister on September 26, 2007.

In the other counts, Mr Orubebe was also accused of allegedly accepting bribes totalling 70 million naira for the award of contracts in favour of his company.

Mr Orubebe’s name had been in the news after the presidential election of March 28, 2015.

On 31 March 2015, Orubebe, acting as a polling agent for the Peoples Democratic Party, tried to disrupt the proceedings of the 2015 presidential election collation.

Orubebe alleged that the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, had taken side with the opposition political party at the time, All Progressives Congress (APC).

He, however, subsequently apologised to Nigerians over his conduct by tendering an unreserved apology urging them not to follow in his footsteps and explaining that he regretted his action.

CCT Fixes September 21 For Judgement On Orubebe’s Case

OrubebeThe Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Mr Danladi Umar has approved September 21 for the delivery of judgment in the case against a former Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godsday Orubebe.

The judgment is to be delivered in the case of alleged false declaration of assets preferred against the former minister.

The notice of the Tribunal’s sitting schedule for the month of September and October also contains the case of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, whose motion has been slated for ruling on October 5.

Senator Saraki is seeking the withdrawal of the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal from the trial over alleged bias.

Mr Orubebe has denied the allegations, saying he does not own any property which was not declared in his asset declaration form submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

Led in evidence on June 2 by his lawyer, Larry Selekowei, the former minister told the Tribunal that he did not declare Plot 2057 in Asokoro for which he is standing trial , because as at the time he was leaving the government in 2011, he had sold off the land to pay two years house rent.

Mr Orubebe had in 2015 tried to scuttle the collation process of the Presidential election, accusing the electoral body of being bais.

The Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal had in April dismissed the application filed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki seeking his withdrawal from the trial, holding that the application lacked merit.

In his ruling, Justice Danladi Umar said that the Attorney-General of the Federation has no powers to investigate any person.

“It is only the security and law enforcement agencies that have that power and it is only when they have concluded their investigation that the Attorney-General can prosecute,” he claimed.

The counsel to the Senate President, Mr Raphael Oluyede, had during the hearing insisted that Mr Danladi was still under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the same agency that allegedly filed the criminal charges against him.

He alleged that it was obvious that the said investigation was used as a bait by the EFCC to get Mr Danladi to do its bidding.

 

 

Pro And Anti Saraki Groups Protest At National Assembly

SarakiSupporters and opponents of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki on Tuesday, stormed the National Assembly as lawmakers resumed legislative proceedings for the week.

One group was protesting against the trial of the Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

They alleged that President Buhari is witch-hunting the Senate President because he emerged Senate President against the wishes of the party.

However, another group of protesters demanded that the Senate President steps down over allegations of false declaration of assets.

Both groups, armed with placards bearing varying messages marched to the National Assembly demanding that their voices be heard.

The protesters were, however, not allowed to proceed beyond the main gate of the National Assembly.

the protesters have vowed that they will lay siege to the National Assembly for the next three days.

Reacting to the protests, Senate Leader, Ali Ndume described the anti-Saraki protest as a dangerous precedent.

 

 

Saraki Seeks Disqualification Of CCT Chairman In His Trial

Code of conduct tribunal on Saraki trial Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has asked the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr Danladi Umar, to disqualify himself from the case.

Senator Saraki is accusing Mr Umar of bias, insisting that he could not get justice under his chairmanship.

In a motion he filed against Mr Umar, Saraki asked the chairman to disqualify himself from further participation in his trial on the alleged falsification of asset declaration.

In the motion on notice filed by Senator Saraki on Wednesday, it was contended that the continued presence of Mr Umar on the panel of the Tribunal offended the provisions of Section 36(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The constitutional provision prescribes that “in the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality”.

The applicant claimed that with the unfolding events and the ways and manners his trial was being conducted by Mr Umar, there is a likelihood of bias from the chairman and as such he should withdraw himself from further prosecuting him.

The motion on notice was brought pursuant to section 36 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the common law rule on likelihood of bias and the rules of natural justice.

Senator Saraki said that the interest of justice would be served if Mr Umar disqualifies himself from sitting in the panel of the Tribunal to hear and determine the charges being prosecuted against the applicant.

No date has been fixed for hearing of the motion.

Senator Sariki’s trial on alleged false asset declaration was on Monday put on a day-to-day basis by the Tribunal.

On Wednesday the cross examination of the prosecution’s witness continued, with the witnessed asked to go through some of the exhibits he had brought before the court. he had on Tuesday told the court that he did not investigate some of the exhibits.

CCT Trial: Judge Accedes To Saraki’s Request, Orders Kafarati To Deliver Judgment

kidnappingThe Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta has acceded to the request by Senate President, Bukola Saraki to direct one of the judges serving under him, Justice Abdul Kafarati to deliver judgment in his (Saraki’s) case.

Saraki, who is standing trial for alleged false assets declaration before the Code of Conduct Tribunal had sued the Chairman, Danladi Umar and others involved in his trial before the Federal High Court.

Saraki in the suit is contending that his trial before the code of conduct tribunal, as currently constituted is a violation of his right, insisting there was no way he could get justice.

It is also Saraki’s contention that while the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is currently investigating Umar for alleged bribery and at the same time prosecuting him before the tribunal, it will be impossible for the Chairman to do justice and act independently in his (Saraki’s) case.

Having taken arguments from parties in the case, Justice Kafarati had scheduled judgment for March 22, but when parties arrived court, he changed his mind at the last minute and informed parties that he was withdrawing from the case and returning the case file to Justice Auta for reassignment to another judge.

Justice Kafarati hinged his decision on publications by some on-line media, which he said had cast him in bad light and portrayed him as been biased.

With the case file returned to Justice Kafarati, judgment has been fixed for Friday, April 15.

CCT Rules It Has Jurisdiction To Proceed With Saraki’s Trial

sarakiThe Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has ruled that it has jurisdiction in the case of alleged falsification of assets brought against Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

The Tribunal says the natural thing to do is to proceed with the trial in spite of a request for an adjournment by counsel to the Senate President, Mr Paul Usoro.

“We adjourned to today to commence with trial. Even if the defence intends to appeal the judgment, it should not stop the proceedings of trial today, provided the prosecution is ready to proceed.

“In view of the foregoing we hold that trial shall proceed for hearing today and we are ready to take the witnesses,” the Tribunal said.

Counsel to the Senate President, Mr Paul Usoro, had asked for an adjournment when the trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on alleged falsification of assets resumed at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Tuesday.

He argued that on the basis of the fact that an appeal has been entered before the appellate court, the defendant filed a motion of stay of proceedings which is before the Registrar of the court.

Mr Usoro said that the process of appeal had been transmitted to the CCT and the record of appeal is before the tribunal.

He explained that the prayer for adjournment is to essentially allow the Court of Appeal to entertain and arrive at a decision in the appeal, which it has graciously fixed a clear date of April 26, 2016 to hear.

The Senate President’s counsel also requested that the case should be adjourned on the ground that he was appearing for the first time in he case and that he was not fully briefed of the matter.

The Principles of Fair Hearing requires that he should be allowed to either be properly briefed or for the lead counsel, Mr Kanu Agabi, to be allowed to return and handle the case.

The Prosecuting Counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, opposed the application.

According to him, the CCT had adjourned the matter for trial to commence and he was ready with his witnesses to commence trial.

He said that the defence is aware that what they are filing today cannot stop the proceedings.

He said that the request for an adjournment is not based on the motion served on the prosecution but on an application of stay of proceedings pending before the Court of Appeal.

He argued that he was served with a motion on stay at 10:20AM on Tuesday morning and since he was not served before the start of the business of the day, it cannot obstruct the trial that has been fixed for same day.

The prosecutor maintained that the appeal filed by Saraki is illegal, backing his argument with Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

The Code of Conduct Tribunal had on March 24 ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the case against the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki on alleged false declaration of his assets while he was Governor of Kwara State.

Dr. Saraki had raised objections on the jurisdiction of the tribunal in the previous sitting.

Lawyer to the Senate President, Kanu Agabi, had argued that the 13-count charge was invalid procedurally because the Code of Conduct Bureau which filed the charges, failed to allow Dr. Saraki explain discrepancies in his assets declaration forms as required by law.

The Chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Umar, ruled that there was no breach of law as the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, 1989, still allows the Senate President to raise his clarifications at the level of the tribunal.

The tribunal also ordered the prosecution to produce its witnesses.