Justice Walter Onnoghen, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria will know his fate as the Code of Conduct Tribunal delivers the judgment today on the charges of false declaration of assets filed.
The CCT will also rule on two applications filed by the CJN who tendered his resignation two weeks ago. One of the applications is challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to hear the case. The other application is asking the CCT chairman to ban himself from further presiding over the case for his alleged bias.
On Monday, the three-member panel, led by Danladi Umar, fixed the date for judgment after the prosecution led by Aliyu Umar (SAN), and the defence, led by Okon Efut, adopted their final addresses. The Federal Government had preferred six charges against Onnoghen in June for failing to declare some of his assets. The government asked the CCT to convict and impose maximum punishment on the suspended CJN, contending that it successfully established that Justice Onnoghen acted in breach of the code of conduct for public officers in the country.
The prosecution had in the charge, marked CCT/ABJ/01/19, alleged that Onnoghen’s failure to properly declare his assets, was in violation of Section 15(2) of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. It further alleged that Onnoghen, who was suspended from office by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 25, operated five foreign bank accounts, contrary to the code of conduct for public officers.
However, in opposition to his trial, Justice Onnoghen, queried the validity of the charge against him, contending that the government violated established judicial precedents by not allowing the National Judicial Council to first investigate the allegation against him, before it rushed the matter to the CCT.
He argued that failure to channel the petition against him, as well as the outcome of the investigation that was purportedly conducted on assets declaration forms he submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau to the NJC, rendered the charge invalid.