Nigeria’s embattled Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen will have a terrible Easter as the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Thursday convicted him of breach of Code of Conduct for Public Officers.
The tribunal, headed by Danladi Umar, found him guilty as charged, ruling that Mr Onnoghen should forfeit the funds in the five accounts which he was accused of not declaring.
Mr. Umar held that Onnoghen evidently acquired the funds fraudulently since he failed to show how he got the huge amount.
Interestingly, the tribunal invoked the full provision of Section 23 of the code of conduct law, which allows it to remove Mr Onnoghen from office, ordering him not to return to the office in the next ten years.
He therefore ordered the immediate removal of Onnoghen, 68, from office as the CJN.
Though Mr. Onnoghen had been on suspension since January 25, 2019 and had recently reportedly sent a notice of retirement to President Muhammadu Buhari in line with the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The Tribunal also stripped him of all offices he had earlier occupied, such as the Chairman of the NJC and also the chairmanship of the Federal Judicial Service Commission.
Onnoghen was convicted on the six counts preferred against him by the Federal Government.
The Code of Conduct Bureau, had, in the charges filed on January 11 on behalf of the Federal Government, accused Onnoghen in the first count of failure to declare his assets to the bureau between June 2005 and December 14, 2016.
He was also accused of falsely declaring 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 Chattered Bank (Nig.) Ltd.
The tribunal chairman, had before handing down judgement, said that the accused, 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,” Umar said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Onnoghen said he had “no comment” when theTribunal Chairman asked him if he had anything to say before his conviction
In any case many Nigerians believe that Mr. Onnoghen’s travails are politically motivated.