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CCT Trial: Onnoghen maintains innocence as FG demands conviction

The Federal Government is seeking a jail sentence for  the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen in his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal( CCT).But Onnoghen who is accused of failing to declare his assets immediately after assuming office is pleading with the tribunal to set him free.The charges against him, he says, are “inherently defective” and unconstitutional.The positions of the two parties are contained in the final addresses of their counsel submitted to the tribunal.The lawyers are due to defend their final addresses tomorrow when the CCT resumes sitting on the case.The Federal Government had on January 11, 2019 filed an application to commence the trial of the CJN at the tribunal.While the trial was ongoing, the National Judicial Council (NJC) advised President Muhammadu Buhari to retire Onnoghen.Although the President is yet to make his position on the NJC’s report known, the CJN on his part resigned from office to “save the Judiciary.”A 14-man prosecution team, led by Aliyu Umar (SAN) in a final written address of April 11, 2019, asked the tribunal to convict Onnoghen.The prosecution said: “We humbly submit to your noble lords that the essential ingredients of the offence are: 1. The Defendant is a public officer as stipulated in paragraph 5 of Part 2 of the 5th Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended). 2. That the Defendant in such capacity failed to declare his assets immediately after taking office for Count One of the charge against the Defendant the above the only ingredients of the offence under Section 15 and 23(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap 15 LFN 2004.“We humbly submit that the Evidence of PW.1 and PW.2 and also exhibits 2, 3, 5 and 6 conclusively proved that Defendant took oath of office as Justice of the Supreme Court in the year 2005 and as such was under an obligation to declare his assets as provided by the Constitution and Code of Conduct Bureau Act.“It is our further submission that by exhibit 2, the Defendant declared his asset for the position of Justice of the Supreme Court on 14th December, 2016. The Defendant took oath of office as a justice of the Supreme Court on 8th day of June, 2005. This is also borne out from the testimony of PW.1, PW.2, Exhibit 2 and 6.“We submit from the above that the Prosecution counsel have proved the essential elements of Count 1 of the Charge being: 1. That the Defendant is a Justice of the Supreme Court bound by virtue of that appointment to abide by the provisions of section 15 of the Code of Conduct Act to declare his assets at least three months after his appointment to that office as stipulated in paragraph 5 of Part 2 of the 5th Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended) 2. That the Defendant was sworn in as the Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on the 8th day of June 2005 3. That the Defendant did not declare his appointment as a Justice of the Supreme Court at the time until when ...Read more

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