The Federal Government has declared war against the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen asking him to immediately vacate his exalted office as Head of the Nation’s judiciary over alleged sundry asset declaration issues. In a move to force Justice Onnoghen out of office, the Federal Government will on Monday January 14, 2019 arraigned the CJN before the Justice Danladi Yakubu led- Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja on charges of failures to declare his assets as required by law and for operating Bank Domiciliary Foreign Currency Accounts.
The charge against Justice Onnoghen has already being filed and served on him last Friday at his official residence in Abuja preparatory for his appearance at the tribunal. The Federal Government among others is accusing Nigeria’s Head of the Judiciary of refusal to declare his assets in breach of the provision of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act.
He is also being accused of maintaining Domiciliary foreign currencies account which comprised Dollars Account, Pound Sterling Account and Euro Account which are alleged to be contrary to relevant laws, especially for public office holders. Justice Nnoghen whose appointment suffered unprecedented delay by President Muhammadu Buhari over undisclosed issues may be the first CJN in Nigeria to be arraigned for criminal charges by the Federal Government.
Apart from putting the Chief Justice in the dock on Monday, it was learned that motion on notice is to be filed against him praying the tribunal to order him to vacate office and recuse himself office so as to prevent alleged interference in his arraignment and trial.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria names withheld has been engaged by Federal Government to lead the onslaught against justice Onnoghen, while PRNigeria could not ascertain names of those who will lead the defence team for CJN.
However, it is gathered that eminent lawyers have volunteered to put their services at the disposal of Justice Onnoghen in the bid to rescue him from the claws of the government.
Prominent Nigerians who have faced such trial at the CCT were discharged for lack of enough evidence. Former governor of Lagos state, Bola Tinubu who was docked at CCT for asset declaration in 2014 later became a free man.
The President of the Senate of Nigeria, Dr. Bukola Saraki was in 2015 arraigned at the tribunal but the charges against him were quashed and he was discharged and acquitted by the tribunal on the ground that the charges against him by government were based on hearsay that could not stand in the face of the law.
Saraki’s discharge and acquittal was upheld by the Supreme Court under the leadership of Justice Onnoghen.
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