…As CCT admits six exhibits against suspended CJN
…Summons account officer
Andrew Orolua, Abuja
Embattled suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, on Monday, urged the tribunal to note that his assets declaration Form 001 which the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) tendered as exhibits in his ongoing trial have been tampered with as is now in loose form with some pages mutilated.
Onnoghen made the observation as the prosecution tendered his 2014 and 2016 assets declaration forms at the tribunal at the resumed trial on the six count charge before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The prosecution team who opened his case on Monday with its 1st witness, James Akpalla, a Senior Investigative Officer with the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), told the tribunal that the report of the investigation team was submitted at 2.45 pm on 11 January 2019 after the charge had been filed by the Federal Government.
He tendered six separate exhibits including Justice Onnoghen’s 2014 and 2016 assets declaration forms.
The tribunal admitted the six exhibits including Justice Onnoghen confessional statement, Onnoghen’s Standard Chartered Bank opening account, the petition written by Anti -Corruption and Research Data Initiative owned by Dennis Gannya, the two asset declaration forms and a document from the Standard Chartered Bank.
However, when the documents were shown to the defendant, Onnoghen through his counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) after a careful look at the documents he observed that they have been tampered with.
According to him, the 2014 form has become “loose, part of it mutilated and has become blue in a way.”
Awomolo made a similar observation on Justice Onnoghen 2016 asset declaration form which he said have some duplications and omission of some pages.
“We have some reservation on the documents, we will not object in the interest of justice but we have reservations that would be addressed at the end of the day”, the senior lawyer stated.
However, Awomolo (SAN) at a point objected to the admissibility of the documents from the bank on the ground that the witness was not the maker of the exhibits.
The tribunal in its ruling admitted the six exhibits and marked accordingly after the Chairman of the tribunal overruled the objection in the interest of justice.
In his testimony, and led in evidence in chief, by Aliyu Umar (SAN), the witness, Mr. Akpalla, stated that upon the receipt of a petition, the Code of Conduct Tribunal constitute a three- man team to investigate the petition.
The team visited Justice Onnoghen at his office at the Supreme Court on January 10, 2019 and obtained a written statement from him. It also wrote the Standard Chartered bank where it obtained the bank opening documents and bank statement.
According to the witness in 2014, Justice Onnoghen had declared two bank accounts but when he was made the Chief Justice of Nigeria in 2016, he declared two Union Bank accounts and left his five standard Chartered Bank accounts undeclared.
Under cross examination by Awomolo, SAN, the witness, Akpalla admitted that the investigation team submitted its report at about 2.45pm when the Federal Government had filed the charge against CJN Onnoghen at the tribunal.
“My lord I cannot answer the question whether am surprised that the charge was filed before we submitted our report,” the witness told the tribunal.
Meanwhile, the tribunal has issued a summon to the Standard Chartered Bank Limited to produce Onnoghen’s account officer, Ifeoma Ukagbue, at the tribunal on Thursday, March 21 to give evidence on behalf of prosecution.