By Eric Elezuo
There are strong indications that the Federal Government has asked The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Hon Justice Walter Onnoghen, to resign his position following serious allegations of false asset declaration by the Code Of Conduct Tribunal.
Documents from a petition from a Whistle blower made available to The Boss, and dated January 7, 2019, and received by the office of the tribunal chairman on January 9, levelled allegations of impropriety against the Chief Judge.
The document read in part: “The particulars of our findings indicate that: 1. His Lordship Justice Walter 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.”
Information reaching The Boss also confirms that the Chief law officer will be docked on Monday, January 14, by 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 Tribunal.
PRNigeria reported that the charge against Justice Onnoghen has already being filed, and was last Friday served on him at his official residence in Abuja preparatory for his appearance at the tribunal.
Onnoghen, among many other alleged offences, is being charged for refusing 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, alleged to be contrary to relevant laws, especially for public office holders.
Justice Onnoghen whose appointment suffered unprecedented 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, the motion on notice is to be filed against him praying the tribunal to order him to vacate office so as to prevent alleged interference in his arraignment and trial.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria names withheld has been engaged by Federal Government to lead the onslaught against justice Onnoghen, while PRNigeria could not ascertain names of those who will lead the defence team for CJN.
However, it is gathered that eminent lawyers have volunteered to put their services at the disposal of Justice Onnoghen in the bid to rescue him from the claws of the government.
It would be recalled that the President of the Senate of Nigeria, Dr. Bukola Saraki was in 2015 shortly after he emerged the Head of the Legislature arraigned at the tribunal but the charges against him were quashed and he was discharged and acquitted by the tribunal on the ground that the charges against him by government were based on hearsay that could not stand in law.
Saraki’s discharge and acquittal was upheld by the Supreme Court under the leadership of Justice Onnoghen.
Not long ago, the President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Mr. Paul Usoro, was arraigned before an Ikeja High Court on charges bordering on money laundering among others. Bothe law officers are from the South South region of the country.