The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen has responded to the accusations of false assets declaration by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Premium times reports.
According to details of a written statement given by the CJN obtained by the medium, Onnoghen noted that he “forgot to update his asset declaration, after the expiration of his 2005 declaration,” explaining that he had an impression that his earlier declaration of assets as Acting CJN covers for his term as substantive CJN.
“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 charted 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 response to a query from the CCB dated January 11.
The case against Justice Onnoghen arose from a petition sent against him by a group, the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative, who said its petition was brought forward “bearing in mind the imminence of the 2019 elections and the overwhelming role of the judiciary both before and after the election.”
Similarly, the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has confirmed Jan. 14 for the trial of the CJN on six-count charge whose service of summons it said had been effected on him as contained in a statement by Ibraheem Al-Hassan, Head of Press and Public Relations at the tribunal on Saturday in Abuja.
Al-Hassan said the action was consequent upon an application signed and filed by Ibrahim Usman and Fatima Ali on behalf of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to the Chairman of the tribunal.
Following the retirement of the former CJN, Mahmoud Mohammed, Onnoghen was appointed acting CJN on November 10, 2017 amidst criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari’s for his failure to forward Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation as the most senior judge.
His name was however forwarded to the Senate on February 8, 2017 by then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, after which he was subsequently sworn in to office as Nigeria’s 17th CJN on March 8, 2017.
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Journalist, Political Analyst and Satirist with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.