Update: Justice Onnoghen Admits ‘forgetting’ To Declare Assets

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Justice Walter Onnoghen

Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen, has admitted that he forgot to declare his assets in 2009 and 2014, documents exclusively obtained by DAILY NIGERIAN show.

Section 15 of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act requires that every public official must declare his assets on assumption of office and thereafter at the end of every four years.

The offence is punishable under Section 23 of the act.

But in his statement he deposed to the Code of Conduct Bureau, Mr Onnoghen admitted that he forgot to make the declaration but later did that of 2014 in 2016.

DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that Mr Onnoghen, who was appointed a Supreme Court Justice in 2005, also failed to be declaring his assets after every four years as required by the constitution.

A credible source at the CCB told DAILY NIGERIAN that “there is clause in CCB assets declaration form that provides for declaration of cash at hand as at the time of declaration, which Onnoghen flouted.”

CCB investigators told DAILY NIGERIAN that the CJN has been making lodgements by himself in cash at the rate of 50,000 dollars per day in 10,000 dollar instalment.

“This lodgement trend has been on every year since 2011. When asked about the source of the funds, he said it was the money he kept at home,” a CCB official who preferred anonymity told DAILY NIGERIAN.

The CJN however “justified” the strange trend in his lodgement, saying there is a law preventing him from lodging the money at once.

“When asked how come the trend of his lodgement continues, he said he said the source of the money was from estacode in FOREX trading.

“In the 2014 declaration, he did not mention the five accounts he maintains with the Standard Chartered Bank but he mentioned them in that of 2016.

“However in the account opening forms he stated that his annual income is 750,000. Remember that in November 2016, the NJC directed justices accused of corruption to step aside and clear their names.

ONNOGHEN’S STATEMENT

“Also note that any decision of the tribunal is to go on appeal to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. And as chairman of NJC, he has supervisory and disciplinary role over all the justices of the court of appeal and Supreme Court. And if the case goes to Supreme Court he is the one to constitute the panel to hear the matter.”

Mr Onnoghen will on Monday January 14 be arraigned before 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.

The charge has already been filed and served on him last Friday at his official residence in Abuja preparatory for his appearance at the tribunal.

Mr 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, a motion on notice is to be filed against him praying the tribunal to order him to vacate office to prevent interference in his arraignment and trial.

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