According to a report by Leadership Newspaper, there are indications that the Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) will conmence meeting tomorrow, to consider its sub-committees report on allegations against suspected Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Nkanu Walter Onnoghen and the acting CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko.
A source close to the council hinted that the sub-committees set-up to consider allegations against both Onnoghen and Tanko ha e concluded their assignments and the reports will be presented and considered by the NJC plenary.
According to the source, tomorrow’s meeting is like to extend till Thursday.
However, the council is expected to take decisive decisions on the crisis rocking the judiciary so as to avert an impending constitutional crisis.
Director of Information of the NJC, Mr Soji Oye, who couldn’t not confirm the report admitted that the Council
may meet very soon.
He, however, said notice of the meeting would be made public in due course.
“I don’t know when exactly the meeting will hold, but the council may meet soon. A statement will be issued when a date is foxes for the meeting,” Oye said.
The NJC had in February constituted a five-man panel headed by Justice S.A Akintan, to investigate the allegations levelled against the suspended CJN, Justice Onnoghen, and the acting CJN, Justice Muhammad.
Petition against Onnoghen formed the six-count charge filed against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) bordering on allegations of non-assets declaration.
Zikhrillahi Ibrahim of Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civil Education wrote the petition against Justice Onnoghen, while the Centre for Justice and Peace Initiative and former NBA President, Olisa Agbako petitioned the council against Justice Ibrahim.
However, the council later received a petition from the EFCC accusing Onnoghen of financial fraud.
CCT Trial: Onnoghen’s Witness Tenders Receipt Of 2010 Asset Declaration
Meanwhile, Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen yesterday opened his defence as he called his first witness, in the ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The witness, Lawal Busari Chief Driver at the Supreme Court, tendered receipt of Onnoghen’s 2010 asset declaration form.
At the resumed trial yesterday, the defense counsel, led by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) informed the court that they will be calling three witnesses in the interim.
However, before Busari, was called into the witness box, Awomolo informed the tribunal of an application seeking for the tribunal’s order to compel one Mrs. Theresa Nwafor, a staff of the Code of Conduct Bureau who is said to be based in Benin, Edo State to come and testify for Onnoghen.
Counsel to the prosecution, Aliyu Umar (SAN), however did not object to the application to issue the subpoena compelling Mrs. Nwafor to appear at the tribunal for the purpose of giving evidence in the trial.
Consequently, the 3 member tribunal led by Danladi Umar granted the application and ordered that Mrs Nwafor appear before the tribunal on Wednesday April 3, 2019 by 10am to testify.
Busari, who was led in evidence by Awomolo, gave a detail information on how he and Onnoghen went to Asokoro in Abuja, sometimes in 2010 to obtain his assets declaration form.
He recalled that onnoghen had on that occasion asked him if he had obtained his own asset declaration form and encouraged him to do.
Busari added that onnoghen later gave him N200 to pay for both forms and receipts issued to them as evidence of payment for the forms.
When Awomolo sought to tender the receipt as evidence, prosecution counsel objected on grounds that he was not the maker. Following the argument that the document was relevant and it’s original, the tribunal accordingly admitted the document as exhibit.
The witness further confirmed that both Onnoghen and himself filled their respective forms and returned to the CCB, while he went on a later date to get the acknowledgement receipts for the forms.
Under cross examination by the prosecution counsel, Busari, who claimed that he has been with Onnoghen since 1999, said he did not accompany Onnoghen to the CCB in 2005.
The witness was thereafter discharged from the witness box and the tribunal then adjourned till Wednesday April 3 for continuation of trial.
Meanwhile, Awomolo has decried the lack of independence of the judiciary.
Awomolo in a statement made available shortly after Monday’s proceedings at the CCT, said that the “Nigerian judiciary is very weak, vulnerable and not independent”.
He said it is unthinkable that the head of the judiciary would be treated the way Onnoghen was treated and not a whimper came from the body of men and women of highest distinction in the legal profession.
Awomolo also regretted that, “Whereas political matters and election matters were treated with dispatch, and Judgment delivered within hours, the appeal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, 6 weeks after argument was ordered to be kept away in the file.
“There is no association of Nigerian Judges to speak a word. Let no public officer or judicial officer at any level, throw stone because if not all, most are guilty as Onnoghen. Nobody knows who is next, a precedent has been laid, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation seems pleased.
He consequently called for amendment of the Constitution to place the Code of Conduct Tribunal under the judiciary to give it its much needed independence, impartiality and to avoid interference from outside the court.
While he argued that corruption cannot be fought successful with corrupt institutions and put, he said, “It is injustice to inflict corrupt procedure on innocent public officers. God will not allow corruption to consume our nation. The end should not justify the means the means should justify the end.
“The practice of propaganda lies and media trial will encourage injustice. Truth will exalt our nation, but propaganda and lies will enthrone injustice. Lies and injustice is a reproach. Let justice be done even if heaven will fall and let the rule of law be the only means to justify the end”, he said.