The Code of Conduct Tribunal’s decision Thursday in Federal Government of Nigeria v. Onnoghen decisively puts to bed the preliminary objection, round of litigations over the prosecution of the former number one adjudicator.
The Chairman of the Tribunal, CCT, Umar Danladi held that because Mr. Walter Onnoghen is not being charged as a Judicial officer but rather as an ordinary public officer, as obtained in the ruling of Ngajiwa vs FGN, such principle does not apply to the Code of Conduct Tribunal. The issue is hereby resolved against the applicant. The Chairman further held that the Tribunal has jurisdiction to try the defendant and that his Prosecution is competent, without regards to section 158, sub-section 1.
In relation to a previous decision by the Tribunal in the trial of a Justice of the Supreme Court, the Tribunal is at liberty to reverse itself, especially if that decision was taken on the basis of a false impression.
According to the Tribunal Chairman, the interpretation of the section in the last case was too narrow, and therefore, the CCT hereby overrules itself in the case of FGN vs Justice Nguta. He concluded by saying the application lacks merit.
On the Application for Recusal
Mr Danladi also ruled on an application that the CCT Chairman should recuse himself because of a case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
He held that the prosecution has been able to prove that there was no case against him before the anti-graft agency.
The Tribunal chairman stated that the EFCC had withdrawn the case against him on November 1, 2018.
He added that the Tribunal is not an appendage of the Presidency and CCT will exist without the chairman and as such, the Tribunal rejects the application
On Breach Of Code of Conduct
The Tribunal Chairman says it is contained in evidence 6, where the defendant admitted by himself that he forgot to declare his assets.
He also held that the issue of partial declaration does not arise.
He adds that the Tribunal believes the facts that are before it, since the defense has failed to disprove it.
He also held that it is crystal clear that the defendant was in clear breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.
The Tribunal, having considered the submission of the prosecution and the statement and evidence before it, the Tribunal finds them worthy of consideration and more than enough to hold the view that the defendant has contravened the provisions of Code of Conduct for Public Officers.
The Tribunal Chairman further orders that all monies in the accounts in question are seized and forfeited to the Federal Government, based on the fact that he failed to show the Tribunal how he acquired the monies.
The Tribunal has come to the conclusion that the defendant has falsely declared his asset by failing to declare those five accounts listed on the charge sheet.
The Tribunal Chairman asked the defence team if it has any thing to say, following which the team and ex-CJN Onnoghen answered in the negative.
Umar concludes by stating that Onnoghen is removed from office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and as the Chairman of the NJC. He is further banned from holding any public office for the next ten years.