Criminal Charges: I am not guilty — CJN Onnoghen
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen has responded to the accusations of false assets declaration by the Code of Conduct Bureau, clarifying that he forgot to update his asset declaration forms, according to some reports.
“My asset declaration form numbers SCN 00014 and SCN 00005 were declared on the same day, 14/12/2016 because I forgot to make a declaration of my assets after the expiration of my 2005 declaration in 2009. Following my appointment as acting CJN in November, 2016, the need to declare my assets anew made me to realize the mistake.
“I then did the declaration 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.
“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 that period of four years which includes my term as CJN,” Mr Onnoghen said in his statement dated January 11″, Onnoghen stated, in his response to the CCB query.
The online news platform, Premium Times published snippets of Onnoghen's response.
Nevertheless, the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has scheduled Jan. 14 for his arraignment.
Mr Ibraheem Al-Hassan, the tribunal's Head, Press and Public Relations, said this in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.
He said the action was consequent upon an application filed by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to the Chairman of the tribunal.
Al-Hassan said the application was signed by Mr Ibrahim Usman and Mrs Fatima Ali on behalf of the bureau.
He, therefore, said the tribunal would commence the trial of the CJN on six-count charge as the service of summons had been effected on the defendant.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI) filed the petition at the Code of Conduct (CCB) against Justice Onnoghen.
Mr Dennis Aghanya, Executive-Secretary of the organisation, who made the copy of the petition available to NAN on Saturday in Abuja, said the body had acted as a whistle blower.
Aghanya said the petition, which was filed on Jan. 7, was an offshoot of a painstaking investigation into the dealings of the CJN.
He said the organisation was of the strong opinion that the allegations were weighty enough to compel an action against Justice Onnoghen.
The body had alleged that Justice Onnoghen made five different cash deposits of 10,000 dollars each on March 8, 2011 into Standard Chartered Bank Account 1062650.
The group also alleged that the CJN on June 7, 2011, made two separate cash deposits of 5000 dollars each.
It was also alleged that the June 7, 2011 transactions were followed by another four cash deposits of 10,000 dollars each.
Similarly, ARDI further alleged that Justice Onnoghen had on June 27, 2011, made another set of five separate cash deposits of 10,000 dollars each and made four more cash deposits of 10,000 dollars on June 28, 2011.
The body alleged that the CJN had also failed to declare his assets immediately after taking office, adding that the inaction was contrary to Section 15 (1) of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.
ARDI also alleged that Onnoghen did not comply with the constitutional requirement for public servants to declare their assets every four years during their career.
The group alleged that the Code of Conduct Bureau Forms (Form CCB 1) belonging to Justice Onnoghen for 2014 and 2016 were dated and filed on the same day.
The group alleged that the acknowledgement slip for Declarant SCN: 000014 was issued on Dec.14, 2016 while that for Declarant SCN: 000015 was also issued on Dec.14, 2016.
The petitioner alleged that the two CCB acknowledgment slips were issued to the Justice Onnoghen when he had been sworn-in as the CJN.