The trial of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, on charges of non-declaration and false declaration of assets, started on Monday, with the tribunal admitting first set of exhibits.
The exhibits tendered by the prosecution led by Mr. Aliyu Umar (SAN), were the petition written by a civil society group and 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.
Umar tendered the documents as exhibits after a brief introductory testimony of the prosecution’s first witness, Mr. James Apala, a Senior Investigation Officer with the Code of Conduct Bureau.
The petition dated January 7, 2019, was sent to the Code of Conduct 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 the defence led by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), 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 address stage.
Ruling, the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, admitted the forms as exhibits with a caveat that the defence would have the right to address the issue in their final address.
Earlier, Apala while being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, had said, “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.”