EMBATTLED Chief Justice of Nigeria –CJN, Walter Onnoghen has been found guilty of violation of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.
Onnoghen lost the battle to affirm his integrity on Thursday when the CCT held that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt, the relevant elements of the offences in the six-count charge on which the suspended CJN was tried.Onnoghen has appealed the judgment.
According to the tribunal headed by Danladi Umar, the prosecution proved, with facts, devoid of technicalities, that Onnoghen made false assets declaration by deliberately omitting to declare the five domiciliary accounts he maintained with Standard Chartered Bank, in which huge deposits were found.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria – SAN, Aliyu Umar, who led the prosecution, noted that while the prosecution established its case against the defendant, Onnoghen called only his driver as his sole witness, and in so doing, failed to discredit the evidence of the three witnesses called by the prosecution.
Umar pointed out that Onnoghen’s confession that he forgot to declare the accounts, means that the CJN admitted that the declaration he made was false.
“The prosecution has proved the charge any beyond any reasonable doubt. The preponderance of proof has been established against the defendant. The defendant falsely declared his asset by deliberately omitting to declare his five bank accounts, and he is found guilty of contravening the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.”
“The tribunal has clearly examined the evidence of PW1, PW2 and PW3 and exhibits tendered by the prosecution, and come to the conclusion that the defendant has falsely declared his assets by deliberately omitting to declare the five accounts under consideration.
“And on that note, find the defendant guilty of the aforementioned breach of the code of conduct for public officers.
“By the provision of Section 23(2). Of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, the defendant has clearly violated the provision of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers and he is accordingly convicted as follows:
*The defendant is hereby removed from office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, National Judicial Council and Chairman, Federal Judicial Service Commission.
*The defendant is hereby barred from any public office for the period of 10 years.
*The money in the five accounts, which the defendant has failed to disclose and has not produced evidence as to how he amassed such amount of money not declared, the money in those accounts is hereby confiscated, seized and forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria as it is crystal clear that such money was acquired illegally based on the fact that the defendant has failed to produce any evidence as to how he acquired such huge sums of money in those bank accounts.”
Following the judgment, Onnoghen will forfeit N47, 878,933.87 to the Federal Government.