The first defence witness called by the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, in the ongoing trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, said on Monday that the embattled top judicial officer submitted his assets declaration form in 2010.
This is contrary to the prosecution’s charge that Onnoghen did not declare his assets between 2005 and 2016. Mr. Lawal Olanrewaju Busari, who said he had been serving as Onnoghen’s driver since 1999, told the tribunal on Monday, that the suspended CJN obtained his assets declaration form on July 28, 2010 and submitted it to Code of Conduct Bureau on November 4, 2010.
Led by the defence counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), Busari said he, on behalf of Onnoghen, paid the sum of N200 for the oath-taking aspect of the assets declaration at the treasury office of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja on November 3, 2010.
He said he personally submitted his own completed form and that of Onnoghen to the Code of Conduct Bureau’s office in Asokoro, Abuja on November 4, 2010.
The witness said, “On November 4, 2010, we – myself and his lordship – submitted our forms back to CCB, Asokoro Office. I don’t know the name of the person who collected the forms from me, but I know she was a woman, light in complexion.
“She received my form and that of my lordship. I was not given any acknowledgement copy that day. She asked me to come back to collect the acknowledgement copy.
“When I went back they demanded my ID card, which I showed them. I met a man who went inside and brought out a bulk of acknowledgement slips. They searched for my name and they found many bearing Lawal but were not mine.
“Later they found my own bearing Olanrewaju Lawal which was mine. He then gave it to me.”
An Attempt by the defence to tender the witnesses’ acknowledgement slip was opposed by the prosecution led by Mr. Aliyu Umar (SAN).
The tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, upheld the objection and rejected the document which he said was not relevant.
After Busari closed his evidence-in-chief, he was cross-examined by the prosecuting counsel.