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Published On: Fri, Mar 22nd, 2019

Non asset declaration: FG closes case against Onnoghen

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By Vivian Okejeme Abuja

The Federal Government has closed its case against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, after calling the third and last witnesses that testified before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.
The prosecution, who initialing tabled six witnesses, told the tribunal that it would be unnecessary to call further witnesses after the third witness testified and was discharged.
Consequently, Onnoghen’s Counsel, Adegbeyega Awomolo SAN, informed the tribunal that his client will enter a no case submission with respect of the charges.
He premised his application on the strength of section 303 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015.
Awomolo, therefore, applied for record of proceedings of the tribunal to enable his client to file the necessary processes.
Meanwhile, the matter continues next week Friday for hearing of the defense’s no-case submission.
Earlier in the proceeding, the third prosecution witness, PW-3, Mr. Ifeoma Okagbue, a staff of Standard Chartered Bank in Abuja, told the tribunal that it was not true that the defendant possessed either $1million or £1million in any of the five bank accounts.
She said that all the accounts were linked to one Bank Verification Code, BVN.
The witness also testified that the bank diverted funds from the accounts into various profit yielding ventures, with the defendant’s approval.
The PW-3 told the tribunal that profits that accrued from the investments were credited back into the accounts.
While two of the accounts are in Naira, the three others were Pounds Sterling, Euro and Dollar accounts.
The witness told the tribunal that all the accounts were domiciliary, and were opened and managed at the branch of the bank in Wuse 2, Abuja.
Also testifying yesterday, a second prosecution witness, Mr Awal Yakassai, said the embattled CJN owned only five houses.
Yakassai, who is a retired Director at the Code of Conduct Bureau, (CCB) described as false, the information that CCB investigators linked the ownership of 55 houses to the defendant.
Under cross-examination, led by the defense counsel Adegboyega Awomolo SAN, the PW2, told the tribunal that verification columns on Onnoghen’s two asset declaration forms were still blank and unsigned.
Further in his testimony, the witness who served the CCB for 29 years, said he retired in April 2018.
He said the CCB was yet to verify Justice Onnoghen’s assets with a view to finding out if he made false declarations.
“As indicated here, the column for verified assets have not been signed as at today,” he said.
In his argument, Awomolo submitted that one of the five buildings was given to the defendant by the federal government itself.
Meanwhile, before the prosecution called his witness, Chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Umar, threatened to give 28 years jail term to journalists that misrepresent proceedings on the CJN’s trial.
According to him, some sections of the media, (Peoples Daily not inclusive) distorted and misrepresented what transpired at the tribunal last Monday.
He, therefore, threatened to apply the full powers of the law against such journalists.

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