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.

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.

PHOTOS: Onnoghen Arrives At CCT For Trial

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The Tribunal chairman stated that the EFCC had withdrawn the case against him on November 1, 2018.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.

CCT Commences Judgement In Onnoghen’s Trial

Justice Walter Onnoghen

 

 

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has commenced judgment for the trial of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen over alleged false declaration of assets

Chairman of the CCT, Mr Danladi Umar is currently delivering judgment on the motion challenging the tribunal’s jurisdiction to try the suspended CJN.

The tribunal held that justice Onnoghen is not been charged as a judicial officer but an ordinary public officer and as such the ruling in Ngajiwa versus the federal government does not apply to the tribunal.

He held that the tribunal has jurisdiction to try the defendant and that his prosecution is 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, the tribunal ruled that it is at liberty to reverse itself especially if that decision was taken with the wrong impression.

According to the tribunal, the interpretation of the section in the last case was too narrow and in other words, the CCT hereby overrule itself in the case of Federal Government vs Nguta.

He concluded by saying the application lacks merit.

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

Prosecution Team Members Disagree As Onnoghen’s Trial Resumes

Justice Onnoghen arrives at CCT in Abuja. Credit: Sadiq Adelakun.

 

The prosecution camp in the trial of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, had a disagreement early on Monday, as proceedings got underway. 

The Drama began when the prosecution led by Mr. Aliyu Umar (SAN), and the defence led by Mr. Okon Efut (SAN), announced appearances for their teams in readiness for the business of the day which was the adoption of final addresses.#

As Umar was making his announcement, a member of his team, Prof. Zainab Duke, attempted to speak to the bench but was shouted down by Umar.

Mr. Umar insisted that Professor  Zainab must take permission from him, a stand which saw the situation further degenerate.

Duke sought the protection of the Judge as regards the issue and in response, the Chairman of the three-man bench, Danladi Umar called for tranquility and noted that the lead prosecuting counsel’s point is in order.

Mr. Danladi said, “only one counsel can speak for the team”.

Prof. Duke attempted to speak again, but she was cut short by Mr. Umar who appealed that the tribunal orders Duke to be sent out of the courtroom.

READ ALSO: Onnoghen’s Resignation: Give Government Credit, They Know What They Were Doing – Clarke

Following the application of the lead prosecution, the tribunal struck out the name of Professor Duke as a member of the prosecution team and advised her to either leave if she wants to or go to the back of the court.

The tribunal afterward started hearing the final submission of the parties in the suit.

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.

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.

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.

Onnoghen’s Resignation: Give Government Credit, They Know What They Were Doing – Clarke

 

 

Chief Robert Clarke, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has said that the Nigerian Government should be given credit for taking the head of the judiciary to a tribunal.

Clarke in an interview with Channels Television’s Seun Okinbaloye on Sunday Politics noted that the government knew what they were doing before they took the action against the Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.

He said, “The government has knowledge of many things which you and I don’t have, so if the government decided to go and take the head of the judiciary to a tribunal, give them credit that they know what they were doing.”

In further dissecting Onnoghen’s case with regards to the CJN’s resignation, Clarke noted that a petition by the EFCC warranted Onnoghen’s resignation and not the CCT or the tribunal’s findings.

READ ALSO: Onnoghen Ought To Have Resigned Earlier, Says Professor Tahir

“What has created the situation that he (the CJN) has found himself today is the petition written by EFCC. That petition, he had a copy of it in February,” Clarke opined.

He further stated that Onnoghen had a copy of that petition in February.

“As at February, the CJN was aware of those charges labeled against him.”

Clarke went on to note that at the stage when he got the EFCC’s petition, he should have resigned.

He argued that the politicizing of the situation stopped Onnoghen from doing the needful at the time.

When asked if he would accept Onnoghen’s resignation if he were the President of Nigeria, Chief Clarke said it is best that the political climate is not overheated.

“Let me be honest with you, we should not allow the politics or the political climate to be overheated. I will advise Buhari as President of Nigeria to accept the resignation because if he does not do so, he is creating another heatwave in the politics of the country.”

Onnoghen’s ‘Resignation’: I Can’t Say Yet That The President Is Aware – Femi Adesina

 

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina says the presidency is yet to confirm if President Buhari is aware of the reported resignation of Justice Walter Onnoghen.

In an interview with Channels Television’s Seun Okinbaloye on Politics Today, Adesina said he cannot confirm at the time if President Buhari is aware of Justice Onnoghen’s reported resignation.

“Is the President aware, I can’t say yet,” Adesina said.

Adesina joined the programme via Skype from Jordan where President Buhari and his team are at present.

The President depart Abuja on Thursday for Amman to honour an invitation by King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan.

He is to participate in the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa holding at the Dead Sea, Jordan.

READ ALSO: Onnoghen Closes His Case At CCT

Adesina noted that he like many other Nigerians read of the development online, stressing that there have been no confirmation from the NJC or other relevant bodies.

He said he also read a report by Justice Onnoghen’s lawyer confirming that Onnoghen turned in his resignation, adding that he is yet to get a briefing on the matter from Mr President.

The President’s media aide noted that he met with his principal earlier today but Onnoghen’s resignation did not come up as a topic for discussion.

Speaking on whether the president got the recommendation from the NJC, Adesina said the papers had the report that the recommendations had been sent however, the Attorney General of the Federation will be in the best place to give a confirmation.

“It is a judicial matter, and the Attorney General is the legal officer of the country, he will be privy to it,” Adesina said.

Adesina reiterated that he has not been briefed by the president regarding any development from the Onnoghen’s reported resignation.

He said,”I met with the president earlier today but it was to discuss his presentation at the World Economic Forum here tomorrow, we didn’t talk about either the resignation or not of the CJN”.

NJC Concludes Hearing On Petition Against Onnoghen, Tanko

NJC Sets Up Panel To Probe Onnoghen, Acting CJN
Justice Walter Onnoghen Justice Tanko Mohammed

 

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has concluded its hearing on the petition against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen and Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Mohammed.

NJC said it is abstaining from considering the allegations relating to assets declarations levelled against Justice Onnoghen, on the grounds that they are subjudice.

READ ALSOOnnoghen Closes His Case At CCT

The judicial body reached a decision on the petitions written by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and others, thereby conveying its decision to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The council also resolved that, by the nature of the decision reached, it would be inappropriate to publicise it before conveying it to the President.

Onnoghen Closes His Case At CCT

 

Justice Walter Onnoghen on Wednesday closed his case in his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Counsel to the suspended CJN, Mr. Chris Uche told the tribunal that, having looked at all the evidence and testimonies before the tribunal, the defence has come to the conclusion to close its case and will be applying in line with rule 14 of the tribunal to file their final address.

He noted that to ensure that they file a written address that will take into consideration all that has been put before the tribunal, they will be asking for 14 days to file all their addresses and leave it to the tribunal to decide one way or the other.

READ ALSO: INEC Resumes Governorship Election Result Collation In Rivers Amid Protest

Responding, the prosecutor, Mr. Aliyu Umar said that even though the defence had told him they will be asking for 14 days the practice direction of the tribunal did not make any specific time for that and so it is at the discretion of the tribunal.

He, however, agreed that parties need enough time to be able to put together their final addresses and that whatever time is given to the defence the same amount of time should be given to the prosecution.

The tribunal resolved to give three working days to the defence to file their written address while the prosecution will also get the same amount of days and thereafter the tribunal will fix a date for ruling on pending applications and the judgment.

It also adjourned to 12th of April for the adoption of written addresses.

Tribunal Orders CCB Director To Appear As Witness For Onnoghen

Second Prosecution Witness Testifies In Onnoghen’s Trial At CCT
Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen (file)

 

The Code of Conduct Tribunal has ordered a director of the Code of Conduct Bureau to appear as a witness for Justice Walter Onnoghen in his ongoing trial for alleged non-declaration of assets.

CCT Chairman, Justice Danladir Umar, ordered Mrs Theresa Nwafor – Director of the CCB in Benin – to appear before the tribunal on Wednesday by 10 am, following a request by Justice Onnoghen’s counsel.

The tribunal had on Friday dismissed Justice Onnoghen’s no-case submission, insisting he had a case to answer and ordered him to open his defence on Monday.

At the resumed sitting, Justice Onnoghen’s counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, said the proceedings from Friday’s hearing had not been made available to the defence.

READ ALSOAlleged False Assets Declaration: Onnoghen To Call CCB Director As Witness

He then made a request for Mrs Theresa Nwafor to be subpoenaed to appear as a witness for the CJN, a position the prosecution counsel did not object to.

In his ruling, the Chairman of the Tribunal granted the request and ordered her to be at the tribunal on Wednesday by 10 am.

Meanwhile, a second witness Lawal Busari had taken the witness stand on behalf of Justice Onnoghen.

The witness, a staff member of the Supreme Court, told the tribunal he is a driver to the CJN.

He further narrated to the tribunal how he was sent by the CJN to collect the asset declaration form on his behalf and that the CCB gave him a receipt to that effect.

When the counsel to the CJN sought to tender the said receipt, the prosecution objected to the move.

The tribunal, however, admitted the receipt.

Continuing with his testimony, the witness said he submitted the forms at the CCB after the CJN had filled it. The witness said he filled his own form and was issued a receipt as well.

Again, when the defence counsel attempted to tender the receipt of the witness, the move was objected to by the prosecutor who said it was not relevant to the case.

The defence counsel insisted that the action of the witness is relevant to the case of the CJN, but the chairman of the Tribunal agreed with the prosecutor and rejected the receipt.

Under cross-examination, the prosecutor asked the witness why he was looking at a small white paper during his testimony in chief.

The witness replied that he wasn’t looking at any paper.

He was now asked if he wrote on the paper and if the paper contained facts which he gave evidence on. The witness said what was written on the paper was about himself.

The defence counsel did not object to the admissibility of the piece of paper as evidence.

Alleged False Assets Declaration: Onnoghen To Call CCB Director As Witness

Onnoghen: Foreign Interference In Nigeria’s Internal Affairs Is 'Insulting' – FG
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen (file)

 

The Code of Conduct Tribunal has resumed sitting in the trial of Justice Walter Onnoghen for alleged non-declaration of assets.

The tribunal had on Friday dismissed Justice Onnoghen’s no-case submission, insisting he had a case to answer and ordered him to open his defence on Monday.

At the resumed sitting, Justice Onnoghen’s counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, said the proceedings from Friday’s hearing had not been made available to the defence.

He requested that a witness, Miss Theresa Nwafor of the Code of Conduct Bureau should be subpoenaed to appear as a witness for the CJN.

READ ALSO: No-Case Submission: Onnoghen Files Notice Of Appeal Against CCT Ruling

The witness is the Director of the CCB in Benin.

Mr Awomolo also informed the chairman that he ought to rule on his application before any other thing, a position the prosecution counsel did not object to.

In his ruling, the chairman of the tribunal granted the request and ordered her to be at the tribunal on Wednesday by 10 am.

Meanwhile, a second witness Lawal Busari had taken the witness stand on behalf of Justice Onnoghen.

The witness, a staff member of the Supreme Court, told the tribunal he is a driver to the CJN.

He further narrated to the tribunal how he was sent by the CJN to collect the asset declaration form on his behalf and that the CCB gave him a receipt to that effect.

When the counsel to the CJN sought to tender the said receipt, the prosecution objected to the move.

The tribunal, however, admitted the receipt.

Continuing with his testimony, the witness said he submitted the forms at the CCB after the CJN had filled it. The witness said he filled his own form and was issued a receipt as well.

Again, when the defence counsel attempted to tender the receipt of the witness, the move was objected to by the prosecutor who said it was not relevant to the case.

The defence counsel insisted that the action of the witness is relevant to the case of the CJN, but the chairman of the Tribunal agreed with the prosecutor and rejected the receipt.

Under cross-examination, the prosecutor asked the witness why he was looking at a small white paper during his testimony in-chief. The witness replied that he wasn’t looking at any paper.

He was now asked if he wrote on the paper and if the paper contained facts which he gave evidence on. The witness said what was written on the paper was about himself.

The defence counsel did not object to the admissibility of the piece of paper as evidence.