The Code of Conduct Tribunal today convicted the former Chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mr. Walter Onnoghen, ordered the forfeiture of funds in five bank accounts traced to him and barred him from holding public office for 10 years.
Although Onnoghen who was suspended from office as CJN by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 25 resigned on April 4, the chairman of the CCT, Mr. Danladi Umar who read the judgement said he should be removed immediately.
He also stripped the former CJN of all the benefits attached to the former offices he held.
“The defendant is hereby removed from office as the CJN, the chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the chairman of the Federal Judicial Service Commission.
“The defendant is hereby banned from holding public office for 10 years.
“The money in the five accounts which the defendant has failed to declare and disclose its source is hereby confiscated, seized and forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria as the money was acquired illegally and the defendant has failed to adduce any evidence how he acquired the money,” said Umar.
The CCB accused Onnoghen of failing to declare his assets from June 2005, after he became a justice of the Supreme Court till December 2016, two months after the federal government raided the homes of several judges, including those of the Supreme Court in October 2018.
Onnoghen was convicted on the six counts preferred against him.
It would be recalled that the federal government, acting through the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), had, in the charges filed on January 11, accused Onnoghen in the first count of failure to declare his assets to the bureau between June 2005 and December 14, 2016.
In the rest of the five counts, the defendant was alleged to have falsely declared his assets on December 14, 2016, by allegedly omitting to declare his domiciliary dollar, euro and pound sterling-denominated accounts, as well as his two naira accounts, all maintained with the Standard Chartered Bank (Nig.) Ltd.
Before passing the sentence, Umar noted that Onnoghen, who only called one witness, failed to dispute the evidence of the three prosecution witnesses.
“The tribunal, having considered the case of the prosecution and documents tendered without objection, find the exhibits tendered worthy of consideration.
“The evidence of Prosecution Witness 1, Prosecution Witness 2 and Prosecution Witness 3 was not disputed.
“The statement of the defendant made in his handwriting alluding to forgetfulness to declare the five accounts is enough to hold that the defendant clearly contravened the Code of Conduct for Public Officer
“Having regard to Section 23(2) of the Code of Conduct Tribunal and Bureau Act, the defendant has clearly contravened the Code of Conduct for Public Officers and he is here by convicted,” said Umar