Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen (CJN), has broken his silence over the allegations levelled against him by the government of president Muhammadu Buhari and the campaign against him in the media by the regime inspite of his constitutional right of presumption of innonence until proven guilty.
In a ‘Cautionary Statement Form’ he filed at the Department of Intelligence Investigation and Monitoring, Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, in Abuja, Onnoghen explained that the deposits in his dollar account were from trading in foreign exchange (forex), AGRICODE, while other investment returns were from proceeds of his investments.
The CJN said, “the deposits made in my US Dollar account No. 87000106250 with STD. Chartered Bank of $10,000 at different intervals of June 28, 2011 were sourced partly from my reserve and saving from my estacodes, including medical expenses.
“The same applies to my deposit of July 28, 2011, of $10,000 twice. It is important to state that prior to my opening the US dollar account, I had foreign currency, which I kept at home, due to the fact that there existed a government that proscribed the operation of foreign currency account by public officers including judicial officers.
“It was when I got to know that the policy had changed that I had to open the said account. Upon opening the account, I was made to understand that I cannot pay in more than $10,000 at a time and per payment slip. I cannot remember the total amount I had on reserve at the time, but it spread from my practice days as a private legal practitioner from 1979 to 1989.
“Some of the deposits are a result of forex trading, AGRICODE, and other investment returns were from proceeds of my investments into them.
“The withdrawals in the account are partly to pay children’s fees, upkeep abroad and further investments. My British pound and euro accounts with Chartered Standard Bank are savings accounts.”
On allegations of non-declaration of assets, Mr. Onnoghen added, “My asset declaration for numbers. SCN000014 and SCN.0000 5 were declared on the same day, December 14, 2016 because I forgot to make a declaration of May 2005 of my assets after the expiration of my 2005 declaration in 2009.
“Following my appointment as acting chief justice of Nigeria in November 2016, the need to declare my asset anew made me to realise the mistake and then did the declarations to cover the period in default.
“I did not include my Standard Chartered Bank Account in SCN. 000014 because I believed they were not opened during the period covered by the declaration.
“I did not make a fresh declaration of asset after my substantive appointment as CJN because I was under the impression that my SCN. 000015 was to cover the period of four years; which includes my leave as CJN.”
Presiden Buhari had last Friday suspended the CJN, claiming he relied on an ex parte order from the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
Mr. Buhari stated that the Bank Verification Number, BVN, had discovered foreign accounts belonging to Onnoghen with deposits of dollars and other foreign currencies.
Majority of Nigerians believe that Mr. Onnoghen’s troubles are politically motivated.