Updated – Onnoghen: CCT fixes judgment for April 18

After three months trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the CCT has fixed Thursday April 18 to give judgment in the six-count charge of false asset declaration levelled against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen by the Federal Government. 

Chairman of the tribunal,  Danladi Yakubu Umar who announced the date of judgment also disclosed that rulings will be delivered on the same date in the two motions earlier filed by Onnoghen in which he challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal and, also praying that the tribunal  chairman should recuse himself from the trial on account of bias.

At the adoption of final addresses by Onnoghen’s counsel, Okon Nkanu, SAN, and prosecution counsel, Aliyu Umar,  Danladi announced that judgment and ruling would be delivered simultaneously on that fateful day. 

While adopting his final address,  Onnoghen’s counsel prayed the tribunal to dismiss the six-count charges against his client on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove the essential ingredients of the charges beyond reasonable doubt. 

Also, Nkanu argued that false declaration of asset charge against Onnoghen was unknown to law because it was not clearly defined by the constitution. 

He added that for the prosecution to succeed the elements of each count in the six-count charge must be well established and its absence, the tribunal under the law must rule in favour of the defendant. 

The counsel particularly faulted the claim of the prosecution that Onnoghen made partial asset declaration, adding that the claim establishes the fact that Onnoghen declared his asset and that if it was done, it raises doubts that must be resolved in favour of the defendant. 

Nkanu further told the Danladi Umar-led tribunal that from the asset declaration form of Onnoghen which was admitted  by the tribunal as exhibit, was clear that the claims of Onnoghen were not verified by the CCB as required by law and, therefore, the charges against his client were based on hearsay. 

The defence counsel, therefore, prayed the tribunal to dismiss the entire charges, discharge and acquit Onnoghen from the alleged offences.

In his adoption, the prosecution counsel, Aliyu Umar informed the tribunal that all the essential ingredients of the charges have been proved beyond all reasonable doubts and prayed the tribunal to uphold his submission. 

The counsel insisted that the defendant did not declare his asset between 2005 to 2015. And added that when he did so on December 14, 2016, five bank accounts with Standard chartered bank opened between 2009 and 2011 were not declared.

He, therefore, urged the tribunal to hold that the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. 

It would be recalled that the Federal government had on January 11, filed a six-count charge bordering on false and non- declaration of asset against Onnoghen at the tribunal which culminated in his suspension from office by President Muhammadu Buhari. 

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