Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen has been convicted and suspended by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) yesterday.
Reading the lead judhgemnt yesterday, the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, ordered the immediate removal of Onnoghen from office as thee CJN.
The tribunal also ordered the forfeiture of all the monies in the accounts the prosecution ad Onnoghen failed to declare. In 4 accounts, across Nigeria, USA and Europe.
The tribunal chairman held that the prosecution had proven the charges against Onnoghen beyond reasonable doubt.
Before the punishments were read out after the conviction, the tribunal gave an opportunity ti the defense to make an allocutus (a statement made by a defense to mitigate the sentence or punishment). However, Onnoghen’s counsel said the defense had nothing to say.
New reports sight that Onnoghen was named as actin CJN by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 10, 2016, following the retirement of former CJN Mahmud Mohammed.
On Febuary 8, 2017, then acting president Yemi Osinbanjo nominated Onnoghen for confirmation as substantive CJN, which was done by the Senate on March 1, 2017.
On Friday, January 25, 2019, President Buhari suspended Onnoghen as CJN citing an order of the CCT earlier granted on Wednesday, January 23, 2019.
Buhari inaugurated Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed as acting CJN; Being the next in line to Onnoghen based on seniority at the apex court.
According to Abuja based lawyer, Hamid Ajibola Jimoh said despite the punishments pronounced by the CCT Chairman; The CCB Act states that the sanctions shall be without prejudice to the penalties that may be imposed by any law where the conduct is also a criminal offence.
He said the EFCC may decide to file charges against Walter Onnoghen relying on his conviction for non-declaration of asset.
Jimoh also said the implication of Onnoghen’s conviction could include the forfeiture of his financial benefits, adding that his resignation came too late in the trial.