The camp of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen has reacted to the judgment.
It will be recalled that the Code of Conduct Tribunal, (CCT) gave a judgment yesterday where it found Onnoghen guilty of the charges against him.
Meanwhile, Okon Efut, lead counsel to Onnoghen has said that the judgment passed by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on the suspended chief justice of Nigeria (CJN) is a breach of justice and equity.
According to TheCable, Efut spoke with journalists after the conviction of Onnoghen for false asset declaration by the CCT, on Thursday. Danladi Umar, CCT chairman, had found Onnoghen guilty of six counts preferred against him by the federal government, saying it had been proved beyond reasonable doubt that he breached the code of conduct for public officers Umar, therefore, ordered that Onnoghen be removed from office of CJN and banned from holding public office for 10 years.
But reacting to the judgment, Efut said the ruling was premeditated and a formality as the judgement had already been passed in January when Onnoghen was removed from office “without fair hearing.”
He said the judgement has not only breached Nigeria’s constitution but also its fundamental principles of justice and equity. He noted that the CCT convicted Onnoghen on an offence “that was never charged.” 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,” he said.
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?”
In another development, a federal high court in Lagos has has granted bail to another former top judicial who was arraigned in court for alleged offenses bordering on corruption and other issues.
The Court granted a N10 million bail to Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, a former judge. Ofili-Ajumogobia was re-arraigned before Rilwan Aikawa, her ex-colleague, where she pleaded not guilty to 18 counts bothering on unlawful enrichment, taking property unlawfully, corruption, forgery and giving false information.
The former judge was first arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before an Ikeja high court in 2016, but on Tuesday, Hakeem Oshodi, a judge, had struck out the corruption charges against her and Godwin Obla, a co-defendant, on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit.
However, the former judge was immediately re-arrested by operatives of the EFCC in the court premises and a fresh criminal charge was filed against her.
In her ruling on Thursday, Aikawa ordered the former judge to submit her passport to the deputy chief registrar of the court on or before 6pm. She said Ofili-Ajumogobia must fulfill the bail conditions within 10 days or it will be revoked.
“I take judicial notice of the Easter holiday and grant bail in the sum of N10m, with one surety in like sum who must have landed property in Lagos,” Aikawa said.
“The surety must not be below grade level 16 in the federal or state civil service. The defendant must deposit her passport with the deputy chief registrar of the court at or before 6.00p.m. today. The defendant shall endeavor to fulfill the conditions within 10-days or the bail will be revoked.
“She shall be released to her lead counsel, Wale Akoni (SAN), pending the fulfillment of the other conditions or the expiration of 10 days, whichever comes first.”
Aikawa also issued summons to compel Obla to appear before the court. “For the second defendant, an order is hereby made for issuance of summons compelling Godwin Obla to appear before the court on the May 15, for the purpose of trial,” the judge ruled.
Earlier, Rotimi Oyedepo, EFCC’s lead counsel, had called the attention of the judge to a pending charge against Obla and his absence, saying every attempt made to inform Obla of the pending charge proved abortive. Oyedepo urged the court to give an order compelling Obla to appear before the court on the next adjourned date.
The case was adjourned till May 15 for trial.
More developments on the matter are expected when the trial resumes on the next date that it was adjourned to.
The EFCC has continued its serious fight against corruption in Nigeria in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption agenda.
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