Unic Press UK: The chief justice of Nigeria, His Lordship Walter Onnoghen will Monday appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to face charges of corruption and failing to declare his assets, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
The charges against Justice of the Supreme Court (JSC), Onnoghen follows a petition filed – with the Code of Conduct (CCB) – against him by a group known as the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI).
According to the ARDI executive secretary, Dennis Aghanya, who had served as an aide for Buhari, the petition that was submitted on January 7 is about corruption, financial crimes and non-declaration of assets by the leader of the judiciary arm of government.
Reacting to the allegations, Judge Onnoghen said:
“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.″ the News Agency of Nigeria.
A notable opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) issued a press statement Saturday, accusing the Buhari administration of disrespecting the rule of law and attempting to gag cum undermine the institutions of democracy in Nigeria and moving towards removing the CJN to pave the way for the unbridled rigging of the Nigeria General Election 2019.
— Official PDP Nigeria (@OfficialPDPNig) January 12, 2019
Under the laws of Nigeria, public officers of the nation have an obligation to declare their assets prior to assuming office, and re-declare when they complete their term of office.
So it seems the Nigerian government is not taking the appropriate steps in prosecuting the chief justice because it appears settled law that a judicial officer in the country must have been sanctioned by the National Judicial Council (NJC) of Nigeria prior to being charged in court or tribunal.