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Onnoghen Knows Fate on Thursday

by CredibleNews

Retired Chief Justice of Nigeria Walter Onnoghen as a date with history on Thursday when the Code of Conduct Tribunal makes a pronouncement in the case filed against him by the Federal Government.

The CCT Chairman, Umar Danladi reserved ruling after the prosecution and defence counsels adopted their written addresses.

Onnoghen is standing trial for six-count charge bordering on false asset declaration.

Earlier, in his address, counsel to Onnoghen, Okon Efut, said the six counts levelled against his client were contradictory and “mutually exclusive.”

“The first is on failure to declare assets. Count two to six complain of false declaration. It [first count] presupposes the declaration so false asset declaration cannot arise.

“The counts are contradictory in terms and mutually exclusive. They can’t go together. We urge your lordship to dismiss all six counts,” the lawyer argued.

Counsel to the Federal Government, Aliyu Umar, argued that the asset declaration filed by the accussed is false since the embattled justice admitted that he made an omission in his assets forms. He argued that all the essential ingredients of the charges have been proved beyond reasonable doubt and urged the tribunal to uphold his submission.

He insisted that Onnoghen did not declare his asset between 2005 -2015, adding that when he did on December 14, 2016, five bank accounts with Standard Chartered Bank opened between 2009 and 2011 were not declared.

Umar in addition stated that Onnoghen had admitted to the offence in exhibit 6 when he stated that he “forgot” to declare the bank accounts. He prayed the tribunal to find Onnoghen guilty as charged and convict him accordingly.

“It is his actions and omission that your lordship will consider if he is guilty of the offence. We urge the tribunal to hold that the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.”

After listening to the submissions of counsels, the CCT chairman fixed Thursday for judgement on the substantive matter.

Umar also said he would rule on applications that he should recuse himself from the matter and whether the tribunal has jurisdiction to entertain the case.

Justice Onnoghen had queried the validity of the charge against him, stressing 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.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on January 25 suspended Onnoghen as CJN based on an ex-parte order of the CCT and swore-in Justice Tanko Muhammad to serve in acting capacity.

The NJC is said to have recommended the compulsory retirement of Onnoghen at its emergency meeting of April 3 and had turned in his notice of retirement to the president the following day.

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