Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, who was convicted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over his failure to declare some of his bank accounts has appealed the CCT ruling.
Naija Buzz had on Thursday reported how the Chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar, in his ruling found Onnoghen guilty of the charges against him by the Federal Government through the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
Mr. Umar ordered the immediate removal of the suspended CJN from office, and the forfeiture of the 5 bank accounts. The CCT also banned Onnoghen from holding any public office for 10 years.
Not satisfied with the CCT ruling, the embattled CJN filed a 16 ground notice of appeal before the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
Onnoghen through his lawyers seek;
“An order allowing this appeal.
“An order that the lower tribunal lacks jurisdiction to entertain the case.
“An order that the charge has become academic.
“An order setting aside the conviction of the appellant.
“An order setting aside the order for forfeiture of assets made by the honourable tribunal.
“An order discharging and acquitting the appellant.”
According to the sacked CJN, the judgment against him was obviously premeditated and unconstitutional.
Mr. Okon Efut (SAN), Onnoghen’s lead counsel, told journalists after the CCT ruling is not the final judgment on the case.
“We know that all is not over in this matter. The wheel of justice grinds slowly. It grinds slowly but surely. But this is not a matter that will end here.
“We shall avail ourselves of all the processes and the hierarchy of the judiciary.”
“The conviction is unconstitutional. It is a breach of fair hearing.
“Before this day, on January 23, 2019, the same judgment had been passed, removing the Chief Justice of Nigeria without fair hearing.
“So, it was fait accompli, it was premeditated. Judgment has been passed before today. Today’s judgment is just a formality.
“We hold the view that the tribunal has not only breached the Constitution of Nigeria, it has breached the fundamental principles of natural justice, equity and good conscience.
“It has not only been able to pass judgment, it has convicted on an offence that was never charged.
“This is an erosion of the fundamental principles of our Constitution and until some questions are answered, for instance, why is it that the due course of justice was not allowed to flow?”
The CCT Chairman had few weeks ago when Onnoghen tried to file a no case submission said that the suspended CJN must defend himself having admitted that he forgot to declare the said accounts as required by law.
Onnoghen however after Thursday ruling said that he did not confess to the alleged offences held by the CCT.
“The lower tribunal erred in law when it held that the appellant confessed to the charges framed by admission and use that as a basis to hold that the appellant did not declare his assets from year 2005 when he became a Justice of the Supreme Court and thus occasioned a gross miscarriage of justice,” the appeal reads in part.
“The appellant did not admit the fact of non-declaration of assets from year 2005 as Justice of the Supreme Court.
“The appellant only stated that he did not declare in 2009 as required because he forgot and did the declaration immediately it realised same.
“By the evidence of DW1 (first defence witness, Lawal Busari who is Onnoghen’s driver), and Exhibit DW2 tendered, it has affirmed the statement of the appellant that he forgot to make a declaration in 2009 but did in 2010 when he remembered showing there was a declaration after contrary to Count 1 of the charge.”
Onnoghen further faulted the CCT ruling, saying that it erred when it convicted him based on alleged confessional statement, which according to him confession statement did not constitute confession as known to law, because it was not precise, clear and unequivocal as required by law.