Walter Onnoghen, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, has alleged that the two asset declaration forms he submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, have been tampered with.
Justice Onnoghen made the allegation on Monday, March 18, 2019, in Abuja through his counsel, a senior advocate of Nigeria, Mr Adeboyega Awomolo, who cross-examined a prosecution witness at the resumed trial on the six counts of non-declaration of assets brought against him by the federal government.
Justice Onnoghen informed the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, that the two forms he submitted in 2014 and 2016 were mutilated and in loose form.
The allegation came when the first prosecution witness, a senior investigation officer with the CCB, Mr James Akpala, sought to tender the two asset forms investigated by the bureau.
But when the attention of the defence team was drawn to the two asset forms, Mr Awomolo consulted with Onnoghen for verification before tendering the forms.
After glancing through the forms, Justice Onnoghen informed the Tribunal through his counsel that the documents had been tampered with and that the CCT would be addressed on the issue.
While giving his testimony, Akpala explained how the CCB referred a petition from the Centre for Anti-Corruption Initiative and signed by one Denis Aganya to him and two others on January 10, 2019.
In the process, he said his team met with Justice Onnoghen, obtained a statement from him, and applied for his account details with a commercial bank.
The witness added that the investigation was concluded on January 11, when the team’s report was prepared.
Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, the witness said he did not know whether the CCB had a central registry and register where all returned asset declaration forms were kept.
He also informed the tribunal that investigation into the petition against Onnoghen was concluded within 24 hours by his team.
When asked if he was aware that the charges against the justice, list of witnesses, and proof of evidence, were prepared, dated and signed by the prosecutor on January 10, 2019, prior to the conclusion of his investigation, the witness declined.
He, however, confirmed the dates when he was confronted with the documents.
Answering another question under cross-examination, Akpala denied the claim that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was involved in the investigation of Justice Onnoghen.
When also confronted that the bank statements he claimed he obtained from a commercial bank were addressed to the EFCC, he declined further comment.
After listening to the arguments and testimonies, the Tribunal adjourned further hearing till Thursday, to enable the prosecutor subpoena the account officer to Justice Onnoghen and allow the suspended CJN appear before the National Judicial Council, NJC.