CCT Dismisses Onnoghens No Case Submission
… Suspended CJN Files Appeal
… Lawyers Engage in War of words
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has dismissed a-no-case submission made by the suspended chief justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen in the six count Non Declaration of Assets Charges, brought against him by the federal government.
Meanwhile, Onnoghen has however filed a notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal in Abuja to set aside the decision of the CCCT and discharge and acquit from the charges.
The Chairman of the Tribunal, Danladi Yakubu Umar, in a ruling on the no-case- submission held that the confessional statement made by Onnoghen that he forgot to declare his five bank accounts with Standard Chartered Bank was enough for Onnoghen to enter his defence.
Onnoghen through his lead counsel Adegboyega Awomolo had urged the tribunal to quash the charges against him on the ground that the Code of Conduct Bureau did not comply with relevant laws before filing the charge.
Among others, Onnoghen’s counsel submitted that the CCB, did not investigate the petition filed against his client by Denis Aganya before filing the charge.
He also submitted that the two asset declaration forms submitted by Onnoghen where not verified by the CCB, as required by law before the charges were filed.
The defense also argued that the three witnesses called by the prosecution had their evidence discredited and that the documents be tendered as exhibits were irrelevant because they were not the makers and signatories to the documents.
In his ruling, Umar disagreed with the defense adding that there are sufficient grounds to compel the defendant (Onnoghen) to defend himself from allegations against him.
Umar specifically insisted that the confessional statement on his undeclared bank accounts was enough to defend himself adding that his name has been so much tainted by the statement.
The CCT Chairman accused the defence of making attempt to prevent Onnoghen from receiving punishment due to him in relation to his confessional statement adding that the tribunal will not run away from giving punishment to anybody no matter his position.
Trouble however started when Awomolo applied for an adjournment till next week Friday, April 5, 2019 to enable Onnoghen prepare for his defence as ordered by the tribunal.
In a sharp response, the Tribunal Chairman rejected the request and ordered that onnoghen must appear before him unfailingly on Monday, April 1, 2019.
Pleadings by awomolo that they needed a little time for the defense were rebuffed by Umar who insisted that the trial must be conducted day by day.
In the drama that ensued, lawyers from the prosecution and the defense side became emotional and engaged in a shouting match that lasted several minutes.
Meanwhile, in a quick response to the ruling, Onnoghen has filed a notice of appeal to challenge the ruling that he has a no case submission.
In the notice of appeal predicated on three grounds, Onnoghen said that the chairman and members of the tribunal erred in law when they dismissed his no-case submission without appreciating the provision of the law that due process was not followed.
The appellant claimed that CCB is bound by the provisions of the Code of Conduct Standard Operation Procedure 2017, with respect to investigation and report of investigation.
In the notice of appeal Onnoghen stated that the first prosecution witness had informed the tribunal that what his team did would not amount to investigation and that the investigation had not been completed on January 10 2019, when the charges were filled.
Onnoghen therefore prayed the court of appeal to set aside the decision of the tribunal that he has a case to answer and that the appeal court should allow the appeal and discharge and acquit him from the charges.