22 March 2019

Nigeria: Govt Closes Suit, Onnoghen to File 'No Case' Submission

Abuja — Calling just three of six witnesses to prove its case against suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), the Federal Government surprisingly closed the matter yesterday.

The embattled jurist is being prosecuted on a six-count charge of alleged failure to disclose some of his assets in the forms he lodged with the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

Prosecution counsel, Aliyu Umar SAN, announced closure of the case shortly after the defence finished cross-examining the third witness and a banker, Ifeoma Okagbue.

The lawyer noted that although he had listed six witnesses, the remaining three could be made available for cross-examination.

But the defence counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, (SAN), said there was no need for that, adding that the prosecution could go ahead closing its case.

Citing Section 303 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, Awomolo informed the tribunal of his intention to apply for a "no case submission."

He pleaded with the tribunal to allow him prepare a written address, urging the chairman, Danladi Umar, to order the registry to make record of proceedings available as guidance.

The prosecution did not object, prompting the tribunal chairman to grant the application.

He ordered that the record must be made available to the parties on Monday before adjourning hearing on the 'no case submission' to March 29, 2019.

However, prior to the adjournment, the CCT chair threatened to incarcerate any reporters that misinterpret him.

Okagbue had in her evidence-in-chief told the tribunal that Onnoghen maintains five different accounts with her bank in Abuja.

According to her, two of them - current and savings- are naira accounts.

The remaining three, she added, were Euro, pound and dollar accounts.

Okagbue disclosed that as at December 2018, one of the naira accounts had N2.6 million while N12.8 million was in the other.

The witness added that the three foreign currency accounts during the period under review had 10,187 Euros; 13,730 pounds and $56, 878.

Okagbue said she met the defendant once in 2015 as a Relationship Manager.


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