News filtering out from government quarters has it that the federal government will on Monday arraign Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for non-declaration of his assets. This information was contained in a statement made available to the media by the Head, Press and Public Relations, Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr. Ibraheem Al-Hassan. He said his arraignment will be based on a six count criminal charge bordering on non-declaration of his assets.
The CCT spokesperson said the arraignment was sequel to an application filed by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to the CCT Chairman on Friday for the trial to commence against the CJN. According to him, the service of summons had been effected to the defendant, while the three-man panel led by Justice Danladi Umar, will commence the trial on Monday, January 14, 2019 at its courtroom, situated at the headquarter, along Jabi Daki biyu, Saloman Lar way, Abuja. Time, he stated is 10:00am.
“The application was filed yesterday by the operatives of CCB, dated January 11, 2019 and signed by Musa Ibrahim Usman (Esq) and Fatima Danjuma Ali (Esq), containing 6 count charges all borders on non-declaration of asset,” the statement highlighted. It was gathered that Onnoghen’s arraignment was sequel to a petition filed by a civil society group, Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI), accusing the CJN of false asset declaration and other sundry allegations.
He is also being accused of maintaining Domiciliary Accounts which comprised Dollar Account, Pound Sterling Account and Euro Account which were alleged to be contrary to relevant laws, especially for public office holders. It was also learnt that the FG in addition plan to file a motion on notice praying the tribunal to order the CJN to vacate office and recuse himself from any aspect of the case as chairman of the National Judicial Council so as to prevent alleged interference in his arraignment and trial.
The group in the said petition, dated January 7, 2019, said Onnoghen “is the owner of sundry accounts primarily funded through cash deposits made by himself up to as recently as 10th August 2016 which appear to have been run in a manner inconsistent with financial transparency and the code of conduct for public officials.” The ARDI in the petition claimed the CJN made five different cash deposits of $10,000 each on March 8, 2011, into Standard Chartered Bank Account 1062650; two separate cash deposits of $5000 each followed by four cash deposits of $10,000 each on June 7, 2011; another set of five separate cash deposits of $10,000 each on June 27, 2011, and four more cash deposits of $10,000 each the following day.
The group also alleged that prior to 2016, Onnoghen appeared “to have suppressed or otherwise concealed the existence of these multiple domiciliary accounts owned by him, as well as the substantial cash balances in them.” For example, the group alleged that Onnoghen had a balance of $391,401.28 as at January 31, 2011, in his Standard Chartered Bank dollar account with account number: 1062650; 49,971 .71 euros as at January 31, 2011, in his Standard Chartered Bank Euro account with number: 5001062686; and E23, 409.66 as at February 28, 2011, in his Standard Chartered Bank Pound Sterling account with number 5001062679.