The suspended Chief of Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen has told the Code of Conduct Tribunal that his assets declaration forms before the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) appeared to have been tampered with.
He made the observation after his assets declaration forms were tendered and admitted in evidence by the tribunal.
The Federal government opened its case on Monday 18. Onnoghen returned for his trial after 72-hour bed rest.
A medical report tendered by his counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), before the tribunal at the last adjourned date indicated that Onnoghen was suffering from toothache and high blood pressure and was advised by his doctor to observe a bed rest for 72 hours.
The tribunal led by its chairman, Danladi Umar, had then adjourned till Monday (today) for the commencement of trial. When the matter came up, the Federal government opened its case by calling on its first witness, Mr. James Akpala.
The prosecution was led by Aliyu Umar (SAN), who invited Akpala, Senior Investigation Officer of the Code of Conduct Bureau into the witness box. In the course of his testimony, Akpala tendered some documentary exhibits which were admitted as evidence.
The exhibits tendered by the witness were the petition written by a civil society group which informed the six counts preferred against the suspended CJN and two assets declaration forms (Forms CCB1) submitted by the defendant in 2014 and 2015.
The petition dated January 7, 2019, was sent to the Code of Bureau by Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative and was admitted by the three-man bench of the CCT as Exhibit 1 without any objection from the defence.
Although Onnoghen’s counsel, Awomolo did not object to the assets declaration forms, he noted that the forms were “in loose form and appeared to be tampered with,” adding that he would address the issues at the final stage.
In his ruling, the tribunal chairman, Umar, admitted the forms as exhibits with a caveat that the defence would have the right to address the issue in their final address.
Akpala had told the tribunal that “on January 9, 2019, I was in my office at the Code of Conduct Bureau that morning when I received a call from my superior, Samuel Madojemu, who happens to be a member of the (investigation) team.
“He directed that I investigate a petition. “Having done the required processes – routine investigation – case file was opened and investigation plan was drawn.
“The petition was authored by Chief Dennis Aghanya of the Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative, alleging breach of Code of Conduct for Public Officers, including non-declaration of assets and false declaration of assets, against the Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, GCON, the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“Thereafter, the team wrote to the Federal Political Officers Unit (of the bureau), Asokoro, requesting the defendant’s asset declarations received from 2000 to 2009.
“The department responded. The two asset declaration forms were examined and filed in the case file.”