Onnoghen: EFCC Detectives, Others may Appear before NJC

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Some Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detectives may appear before the National Judicial Council (NJC) on their findings on suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen and other issues. The Nation has learnt.

Also to appear before the NJC are officials of some other intelligence agencies.

All relevant desks and detectives were placed on standby yesterday pending the invitation of the NJC.

Also, those who petitioned the NJC, such as the Anti-corruption and Research Based Data Initiative, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) and others are expected to defend their claims and present evidence to the NJC.

Justice Onnoghen is being investigated for alleged suspicious payment of about $3million into some of his accounts.

The NJC, which has received petitions from some individuals, has queried Justice Onnoghen and the acting CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad,

The NJC may reconvene today following the expiration of the seven-day ultimatum given to Justice Onnoghen and the Acting CJN to defend themselves on the allegations against them.

It was learnt that some of the allegations border on findings by some agencies, including the EFCC, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and other security institutions.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said the NJC had received responses from Onnoghen and the Acting CJN.

The source said: “Members of the council will now review the allegations and the defence of those affected.

“The onus is now on those who alleged infractions or abuse of office by the CJN to prove their allegations beyond reasonable doubt. The Anti-corruption and Research Based Data Initiative and Agbakoba will have to prove their claims.

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“The NJC is already  in receipt of responses from Onnoghen and Muhammad but they cannot be divulged to the public.

“Going by the tradition of the NJC, Onnoghen and Muhammed can appear with their counsel to strengthen their case.”

The source also added that some agencies like the EFCC and other intelligence organizations might be asked to clarify a few things by the NJC.

“Based on the petitions by some groups and individuals before the NJC on Onnoghen, the acting CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Chairman Danladi Y. Umar some detectives from the EFCC, NFIU and other secret agencies may appear before the NJC.

“In suspending Onnoghen, President Muhammadu Buhari had relied on the fact that the security agencies had since then traced other suspicious transactions running into millions of dollars to the CJN’s personal accounts, all undeclared or improperly declared as required by law.”

The security agencies have put their detectives on standby for the NJC’s invitation.

“Our teams are ready with heaps of evidence. It is left to the discretion of NJC to invite the agencies concerned on their findings on the CJN,” a security chief said.

But a source said the real battle in NJC might be on the propriety or otherwise of Justice Onnoghen’s suspension by President Buhari on January 25.

Another source said: “Those backing the CJN have alleged that Buhari acted illegally and the NJC must reverse the suspension before looking into the merits or otherwise of the allegations against him.

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“But those who supported the suspension have continued to rely on Section 231 (4) and (5) of the constitution.

Section 231(4) says: “If the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria is vacant or if the person holding the office is for any reason unable to perform the functions of the office, then until a person has been appointed to and has assumed the functions of that office, or until the person holding the office has resumed those functions, the President shall appoint the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court to perform those functions.”

Section 231 (5) says: “Except on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, appointment pursuant to the provisions of subsection (4) of this section shall cease to have effect after the expiration of three months from the date of such appointment, and the President shall not reappoint a person whose appointment has relapsed.”

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