CJN: Tribunal adjourns proceedings against Onnoghen in absentia
The Code of Conduct Tribunal has adjourned proceedings involving the charges of non-declaration of assets preferred against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
The proceedings were adjourned till January 22. The tribunal adjourned the case after the lead prosecuting counsel, Aliyu Umar (SAN), conceded that Onnoghen was not properly served with the charges and the summons.
Umar agreed that the CJN was not personally served with the charges and the court’s summons, as required by the law. He, therefore, requested the tribunal to direct a fresh service on the CJN.
Olanipekun had earlier told the tribunal that he and other defense lawyers only appeared in court in protest against the jurisdiction of the tribunal.
He also said that, from the account given by the court official earlier in the proceedings, the CJN was not served with the charges and summons personally, but through his aide.
He then insisted that the law requires that the defendant is served personally.
Meanwhile, despite the absence of the defendant at the court, a team of lawyers number over 70 led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) arrives to defend him.
The defense team includes over 40 Senior Advocates Nigeria (SAN) with one SAN on the side of the prosecution. They include; Former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi, Chief Chris Uche, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo among others. On the side of the prosecution, there are five lawyers led by Aliyu Umar SAN.
Justice Onnoghen is facing six charges bordering on failure to declare his assets and operating a domiciliary account, among other charges.
The charges against the CJN are based on a petition signed by the executive secretary of the anti-corruption research data based initiative, Dennis Aghanya.
The petition alleges amongst others things that the CJN failed to declare ownership of sundry accounts funded through cash deposits made by himself up to August 10, 2016.
CJN arraignment: This is a plan to rig 2019 elections – Arewa
The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, has revealed that the arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen, was a plan to rig the 2019 elections.
In an interview with DAILY POST, AYCF President, Yerima Shettima said the planned arraignment of Onnoghen by the Buhari-led government was an assault on Nigeria’s democracy which has come to stay, hence Nigerians should kick against it.
The Federal Government will on Monday, January 14, 2019, arraign the CJN before the Justice Danladi Yakubu-led Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja on charges of failure to declare his assets as required by law and for operating Bank Domiciliary Foreign Currency Accounts.
The charges against Justice Onnoghen were filed and served on him on Friday at his official residence in Abuja preparatory to his appearance at the tribunal.
However, Shettima, who described the planned move as a “grand conspiracy”, insisted that the case against Onnoghen was a plot to rig the forthcoming election.
According to him, “I think there is a grand conspiracy to undermine the sensibilities of Nigerians. At this critical period when we have one month to the election, the present Buhari, APC-led administration has been seen to bring tension, panic and it’s a clear indication that they are not prepared for the election.
“These all points to the fact that our democracy is in danger, our democracy has been undermined and this is a call for all Nigerians to rise up to protect our democracy”.
“It appears from all indications that most of them in government were never part of those who advocated for democracy; they didn’t know what people suffered; what we went through but today they find themselves in power and knowing they have not paid their dues, they just act in whichever way”.
“But for us, Nigeria is our country, we have paid our dues and will not accept any anti-democratic act”.
“So, this is a call to Nigerians to ensure that democracy is protected. We have seen them making attempts to undermine the legislature and now it has moved to the judiciary.
“If you now kill the legislature and the judiciary where is the democracy then? There is no democracy, Nigerians must all rise up and condemn this act, this country must remain together. This country has come this far and we will not allow anyone to undermine us”.
“We must all condemn the act, it’s unacceptable, to an extent they are becoming more desperate and I think it’s a way to intimidate the judiciary so that they will rig the election and uphold the judiciary and the head of judiciary and at the end of the day, they will put fear in the mind of other justices and people and this must stop”.
“The judiciary must rise up to the occasion never to accept any intimidation from any angle.”
Shettima also said: “Whether Cabals or not, he (Buhari) must take responsibility and if he doesn’t know that such things are happening then it’s a clear indication that we don’t have a leader because he has taken oath of office to rule the country as the Commander-In-Chief so if there are things in the country he must definitely be aware of it.
“Well, for us Nigeria must remain together, democracy has come to stay and any attempt to undermine it will not be accepted as we will rally round to kick against it and resist any intimidation and blackmail by anybody.”
Governors urge CJN to ignore CCT summons
Governors in five Southsouth states yesterday called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, to ignore the summons by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
Barring any last-minute change, the embattled CJN will be arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, on Monday, over failure to declare his assets after his appointment as CJN.
An Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative had filed a petition against Onnoghen over the non declaration of his assets.
They rose from an emergency meeting in Abuja at the instance of Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson, describing the CCT summons against Justice Onnoghen as a grave and dangerous escalation of assault on institutions of the state, including the National Assembly.
In a communique issued after the meeting and read by Dickson, the governors reminded President Muhammadu Buhari of his constitutional responsibility and huge moral obligation to defend the nation’s democracy.
The communique reads: “We consider this step, which is directly aimed at humiliating the nation’s highest judicial officer and a prominent son of the region, as totally unacceptable as it is reflective of the Southsouth story of endless marginalization and intimidation.
“We note that under Section 158(1) of the 1999 Constitution, the National Judicial Council has ample powers to deal exhaustively with matters pertaining to allegations of misconduct and discipline of judicial officers.
“Specifically, the NJC has the powers and clear procedures for investigating allegations, and recommending appropriate sanctions or disciplinary measures against judicial officials as a matter of the first instance before any further steps.”
Condemning the way the CJN was summoned by the CCT, the governors considered the action a setback to the gains recorded by the nation in its 20-year democratic journey.
According to them, the action against Justice Onnoghen further reinforced the perception that the Buhari administration has no regard for the sentiments of Nigerians, in particular, the people of Niger Delta, and the rule of law.
They recalled what they termed “unceremonious” removal of former Acting Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mathew Seiyefa and his replacement with an officer of northern extraction.
The governors flayed what they described as the administration’s penchant for flagrant disobedience of and disregard for legitimate and valid court orders.
The communique further states: “We expect President Buhari to know that democracy cannot survive without respect for the constitution, strict adherence to the rule of law, and separation of powers as enshrined in the constitution.
“We strongly believe that the regrettable development at the Supreme Court at this critical time, when preparations for the general elections are wobbling (with serious concern about INEC and security agencies) is capable of causing avoidable anxiety, tension and possible breakdown of law and order in the country.
“We note further that the action undermines confidence not only in the judiciary but also the electoral process that has already commenced, in view of the pivotal role that the judiciary plays in the process of electoral adjudication.
Onnoghen: Presidency orders immediate vacation from office
The President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government has ordered the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen to immediately vacate office.
Consequently, the government will on Monday January 14, 2019 arraign the CJN before the Justice Danladi Yakubu led-Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja on charges of failures to declare his assets as required by law and for operating Bank Domiciliary Foreign Currency Accounts.
The charge against Justice Onnoghensighted by PRNigeria has already being filed and served on him last Friday at his official residence in Abuja preparatory for his appearance at the tribunal.
The Federal Government among others is accusing Nigeria’s Head of the judiciary of refusal to declare his assets in breach of the provision of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act.
He is also being accused of maintaining Domiciliary foreign currencies account which comprised Dollars Account, Pound Sterling Account and Euro Account which are alleged to be contrary to relevant laws, especially for public office holders.
Justice Onnoghen, whose appointment suffered delay by President Muhammadu Buhari over undisclosed issues, may be the first CJN in Nigeria to be arraigned for criminal charges by the Federal Government.
Apart from putting the Chief Justice in the dock on Monday, PRNigeria learnt that a motion on notice is to be filed against him praying the tribunal to order him to vacate office and recuse himself from office so as to prevent alleged interference in his arraignment and trial.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria was said to have been engaged by Federal Government to prosecute Justice Onnoghen.
Already, eminent lawyers have volunteered to put their services at the disposal of the CJN.