…FG asks tribunal to convict him
…Charges against me are unknown in law- Onnoghen
Andrew Orolua, Abuja
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), on Monday, fixed Thursday, April 18 to give judgment in the six-count charge of false asset declaration brought 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 ruling 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.
Adopting their final addresses on Monday, Onnoghen’s counsel, Okon Nkanu (SAN), adduced reasons while the charges against Onnoghen should be dismissed.
Nkanu stated that the six-count charges against his client should be dismissed on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove the essential ingredients of false assets declaration contained in the charges beyond reasonable doubt.
He further argued that the false declaration of asset charge filed against Onnoghen was unknown to law because it was not clearly defined by the Constitution.
Nkanu added that for the prosecution to succeed, the elements of each count in the six-count charge must be well established, stressing that in the absence of proof of those ingredients, the tribunal under by law should 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 tribunal that from Onnoghen’s asset declaration form which is in evidence as exhibit, it was clear that Onnoghen’s assets 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 purported offences.
The prosecution counsel, Aliyu Umar (SAN), while adopting his written address, informed the tribunal that all the essential ingredients of the charges have been proved beyond all reasonable doubts.
He urged the tribunal to discountenance defence lawyer submissions and argument as misconceived.
He 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.
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.
Though Justice Onnoghen had resigned his appointment as justice of the Supreme Court, his resignation letter is still receiving the attention of the President.