Posted by News Express | 24 April 2019 | 558 times
Another round of legal troubles is appearing in the horizon for the outgoing Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is getting set to charge him to court for alleged financial infractions.
This was as Nigerian Tribune exclusively obtained how the five-man probe panel set up by the National Judicial Council (NJC) to determine the fate of Onnoghen voted.
Nigerian Tribune was informed that a charge had been filed against him and could be arraigned anytime soon.
A source close to Onnoghen said he was aware of the next move of the Federal Government and well prepared ahead of the trial.
The emergency leadership of Justice Umaru Abdullahi had set up a five-man panel headed by a retired justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sunday Akintan, to investigate the allegations of impropriety brought against Onnoghen by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the wake of his travails over alleged false declaration of assets.
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) convicted him of the charge last Thursday, recommending his removal from office and banishment from public office for 10 years.
The tribunal also ruled he should forfeit the outstanding deposits in his five bank accounts to the Federal Government.
The five accounts reportedly housed a total of N46.4 million.
With Onnoghen insisting during the tribunal trial that only the NJC could sanction him, being a judicial officer, EFCC tabled a petition against him, detailing alleged financial infractions and alleged wealth acquisition beyond reasonable earnings.
He also refused quitting as the CJN, despite the suspension from office by President Muhammadu Buhari, saying only the council could exact such power over him.
Abdullahi, a retired president of the Court of Appeal, had taken over the mantle of leadership of the council following the decision to excuse the acting CJN, Mohammed Ibrahim Tanko, from proceedings as the petition against him, by Olisa Agbakoba, a senior advocate, was also considered alongside Onnoghen’s case.
Nigerian Tribune can reveal that, contrary to the impression that the council probe panel unanimously advised Buhari to compulsorily retire Onnoghen “in the interest of the judiciary”, two members of the panel voted “not guilty” for Onnoghen, two voted “guilty” and a member abstained from voting.
When the split decision was delivered to Abdullahi-led council, the guilty verdict was conditionally adopted, with the president being encouraged to retire him with full benefits and retention of all due statutory and constitutional.
Onnoghen sent in a voluntary retirement notice to the president immediately news of the council’s position got to him.
The council also showed that it was moving beyond the Onnoghen conundrum by removing his name as its chairman and plugging Tanko in as the acting chairman, on its official website.
•Excerpted from a Nigerian Tribune report.
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