The Code of Conduct Bureau has slammed corruption charges against the Chief Justice of Nigeria at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, court documents showed.
Walter Onnoghen became the Chief Justice in March 2017, less than six months after the homes of several federal judges, including those of the Supreme Court, were searched in an anti-corruption raid.
On January 10, the Nigerian government filed charges against the head of the country’s judicial arm, accusing him of asset declaration offences.
The government said it was only in 2016 after the controversial crackdown on judges that Mr Onnoghen partially declared his asset, but still failed to declare a series of bank accounts, denominated in local and foreign currencies, linked to him at a Standard Chartered Bank branch in Abuja.
The government consequently filed six charges of non and fraudulent declaration of assets by Mr Onnoghen, with trial expected to commence on January 14 at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The CCT said in a separate statement Saturday afternoon that trial would commence on Monday at the premises of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Jabi, commercial neighbourhood in Abuja.
A spokesperson for the Supreme Court did not immediately return requests for comments Saturday afternoon.
The trial could further strain relations between the judicial and the executive arms of the federal government, which had been largely tense since the raid on federal judges’s homes in October 2016.
Two judges of the Supreme Court were amongst those whose houses were raided. They were charged for corruption, but none of them has been found guilty of wrongdoing.
PREMIUM TIMES obtained copies of the January 10 charges on Saturday.
Code of Conduct Tribunal Trail on CJN Walter Onnoghen
Code of Conduct Tribunal Trail on CJN Walter Onnoghen 2
Code of Conduct Tribunal Trail on CJN Walter Onnoghen 3
The charges appeared to have been triggered by a group.
The group, the Anti-corruption and Research based Data Initiative, had sent the petition below against the CJN to PREMIUM TIMES.
The complaints were sent to the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
PETITION ON SUSPECTED FINANCIAL CRIMES AND BREACHES OF THE CODE OF CONDUCT BUREAU REQUIREMENTS AGAINST HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE W. S. NKANU ONNOGHEN, GCON, THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF NIGERIA
We write to bring to your attention serious concerns bothering on flagrant violations of the law and the Constitution of Nigeria by the Honourable Mr. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Specifically, we are distressed that facts on the ground indicate the leader of our country’s judicial branch is embroiled in suspected financial crimes and breaches of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.
The particulars of our findings indicate that:
His Lordship Justice Walter Onnoghen is the owner of sundry accounts primarily funded through cash deposits made by himself, up to as recently as 10th August 2016 which appear to have been run in a manner inconsistent with financial transparency and the code of conduct for public officials.
To give specific examples, here are some instances of cash deposits by Justice Onnoghen:
Justice Onnoghen made five different cash deposits of $10,000 each on 8th March 2011 into Standard Chartered Bank Account 1062650;
On 7th June 2011, two separate cash deposits of $5000 each were made by Justice Walter Onnoghen, followed by four cash deposits of $10,000 each;
On 27th June 2011, Justice Onnoghen made another set of five separate cash deposits of $10,000 each and made four more cash deposits of $10,000 each on the following day, 28th June 2011;
Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen did not declare his assets immediately after taking office, contrary to Section 15 (1) of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act;
Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen did not comply with the constitutional requirement for public servants to declare their assets every four years during their career;
The Code of Conduct Bureau Forms (Form CCB 1) of Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen for 2014 and 2016 were dated and filed on the same day. The acknowledgement slip for Declarant SCN: 000014 was issued on 14th December 2016. The acknowledgement slip for Declarant SCN: 000015 was also issued on 14th December 2016, at which point Justice Onnoghen had become the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
The affidavit for SCN: 000014 was sworn to on 14th December 2016;
The affidavit for SCN: 000015 was sworn to on 14th December 2016;
Both forms were received on 14th December 2016 by one Awwal Usman Yakasai.
The discrepancy between Justice Walter Onnoghen’s two CCB forms that were filed on the same day is significant.
In filling the section on Details of Assets, particularly Cash, in Nigerian Banks, His Lordship as Declarant SCN: 000014 mentioned only two bank accounts:
Union Bank account number 0021464934 in Abuja, with balance of N9,536,407, as at 14th November 2014.
Union Bank account number 0012783291 in Calabar, with balance of N11, 456,311 as at 14th November 2014.
The sources of the funds in these accounts are stated as salaries, estacodes and allowances.
As Declarant SCN: 000015 His Lordship however lists seven bank accounts:
Standard Chartered account 00001062667, with balance of N3,221,807.05 as at 14th November 2016.
Standard Chartered account 00001062650, with balance of $164,804.82, as at 14th November 2016.
Standard Chartered account 5001062686, with balance of EUROS 55,154.56, as at 14th November 2016.
Standard Chartered Bank account 5001062679 with balance of GBP108,352.2, as at 14th November 2016.
Standard Chartered Bank account 5001062693 with balance of N8,131,195.27, as at 14th November 2016.
Union Bank account 00021464934 with balance of N23,261,568.89, as at 14th November 2016.
Union Bank account 0012783291 with balance of N14,695,029.12, as at 14th November 2016.
The foreign currency Standard Chartered Bank accounts that were declared by Declarant SCN: 000015 have been in existence since at least 2011.
Prior to 2016, His Lordship appears to have suppressed or otherwise concealed the existence of these multiple domiciliary accounts owned by him, as well as the substantial cash balances in them.
The Standard Chartered Bank dollar account 1062650 had a balance of $391,401.28 on 31st January 2011;
The Standard Chartered Bank Euro account 5001062686 had a balance of EURO 49,971.71 on 31st January 2011;
The Standard Chartered Bank pound sterling account 5001062679 had a balance of GBP23,409.66 on 28th February 2011.
It is curious that these domiciliary accounts were not declared in one of the two CCB Forms filed by Justice Onnoghen on the same day, 14th December 2016.
The Naira bank accounts in b (i) and b (v) above are also omitted in the CCB form of Declarant SCN: 000014.
It is our humble view that, with the foregoing, we have laid before you facts which support the assertion that Justice Walter Onnoghen may have committed a breach of the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act as follows:
Non-declaration of assets immediately after taking office in several capacities prior to becoming the Chief Justice of Nigeria contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act;
Non-declaration of assets immediately after taking office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act;
55Non-declaration of assets at the statutory intervals after taking office throughout his career as a federal judicial officer contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act;
False declaration of asset, and in particular, concealment of significant and declarable assets in the form of sundry bank accounts and the balances therein, contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act;
Consequent to this information, it is our expectation and request that you will discharge the constitutional duty of your office and take the necessary lawful actions to uphold and enforce the law in this matter by involving sister agencies such as:
The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to conduct comprehensive statistical analysis of cash transactions on all the accounts for cases of suspicious transactions.
The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to determine whether Standard Chartered Bank has not breached statutory duties to the Nigerian State in favour of, or in connivance with, His Lordship on Suspicious Transactions Reporting (STR).
The Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to determine whether the disclosed financial transactions are justified by His Lordship’s lawful remuneration.
As ordinary citizens, motivated by a clear belief that there must be high standards in public life, we have acted to expose a possible criminal breach of our laws. We believe it is now your duty to act, and to do so promptly.
Kogi Judiciary Director dies following 9 Months Unpaid Salaries
Tension has risen in Kogi State as a result of the death of one of the directors working in the judiciary of Kogi state.
Mr. Zekery Aguye, a Magistrate and Deputy Chief Registrar (Litigation), died last week Tuesday after losing a protracted battle with prostrate cancer.
He died at the National Hospital, Abuja, where he was initially being treated before he was forced to discontinue the treatment due to his inability to offset his medical bills.
Asked to confirm the news of the death, the Chief Registrar of the High Court, Mr. Yahaya Adamu, who was practically crestfallen, narrated the pathetic and unfortunate circumstances that led to the death of the director whom he described as one of the best hands in the state judiciary.
“I am very sorry to say that even as we subscribe to the will of Almighty Allah, who gives and takes life, you and I know certainly that sometimes there are deaths that are evitable. In this particular one, we feel it may have been further delayed if we had continued to manage his ailment as we were doing in the past before the judiciary was financially grounded.”
He said the battle over Mr. Aguye’s life started since two years ago when he was diagnosed of the disease.
He said with quick appropriate response and the concerted attention of the family and the judiciary, the deceased received the right and necessary medical treatment.
“He was taken to the National Hospital where he was treated to the extent that he even started driving his car by himself having survived the critical period of the illness that also affected his spine.
“You see, when it all started, we thought it was one of those usual ailments. But when it became obvious that he needed to be handled by specialists we headed for the National Hospital.
“You will agree with me that treatment there’s highly capital intensive. So, in conjunction with the family and other well-wishers he was revived to Allah’s glory.
“He was subsequently placed on drugs and periodic examinations by the hospital which we consistently complied with. This processes costs between 400 and 500,000 thousand naira monthly, depending on the result of the tests. By the grace of God and with the cooperation of the family and others we were coping with the management of the illness.
“However, we started having problems with his treatment as from the middle of last year when Kogi State Judiciary started facing funding crises. At this point, his salary, allowances and even the little assistance the judiciary was giving him ceased to come anymore. His care suddenly became the exclusive responsibility of the wife and the family alone.
“You’ll surely agree with me that couple with the children’s demands it will be difficult for the wife to bear this enormous burden. As a matter of fact, before he finally gave up the ghost, he was withdrawn from the National Hospital for lack of fund! It’s at the critical point of his death that he was rushed back to the hospital by which time it was already too late.
“So I will like to use this medium to ask well-meaning Nigerians to plead with His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello, to save Kogi judiciary and the state similar calamities by releasing the judiciary funds so we can pay the nine months we are owing our workers.
“As I speak with you, many others are hospitalized, their children withdrawn from schools and some even homeless resulting from tenancy problems with their respective landlords” the Chief Registrar added.
The Kogi State Chairman Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), Comrade Emmanuel Waniko, who also felt that Mr. Aguye’s death cannot be entirely divorced from the non-payment of judiciary workers’ salaries since July 2018 which now amounts to nine months.
He said the union was still shocked and mourning the unexpected demise of the director. He said nobody in the judiciary would have contemplated losing him now when he was believed to have survived the critical period of the illness and was recuperating.
Linking the death to the ongoing strike resulting from unpaid salaries, he recalled the content of the affidavit he deposed to in the case instituted aginst Governor Bello and the state’s Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Nasiru Ajanah, at the National Industrial Court by the union before this tragic incident. He noted that he had stated there that “the staff of Kogi State Judiciary are hungry, sick and disillusioned without any hope as to know when the subventions will be released to pay thier salaries and emoluments.”
“To buttress that, he asked: “So, is this kind of condition not traumatic enough for even the healthy not to talk of somebody just recovering from such a sickness as cancer? Mark you, we have also lost, similar circumstances, Mr. Benjamin Ameloko, an Area Court Judge and Mr. Isah Salifu, a member of the Upper Area Court.”
The Chairman said it has come to the right time that the state government realise that no amount of deliberate and systematic depletion of the Magistrates, Judges and workers of the judiciary would make the union succumb to subverting the judiciary, as an institution, to the whims and caprices of a single individual at the expense of the Nigerian constitution, the laws of Kogi State and the responsibilities given to the judiciary as the last hope of the common man.
Recalling the genesis of the three-months-old strike commenced since December last year and the state governor’s responses so far, he said the union had no other option than than to embark on the strike when after non-release of subventions for payment of salaries and overhead costs for six months, workers could no longer go to work and offices were no longer conducive for working due to lack of basic working materials like stationery.
He said the union was surprised to hear the governor mention, during his budget presentation in January 2019, after being owed six months salaries resulting in the declaration of the strike in December, that the issue of table-payment or staff data capturing became conditions upon which staff would be paid their legitimately earned salaries.
He said the state government has refused to pay judiciary its subventions and have demonstrated that neither the plight of judiciary workers nor the citizens suffering from the closure of the courts mattered by blatantly refusing to constitute any negotiation team with JUSUN as obtained in sane climes.
“Instead, the governor chose to further abuse our sensibilities on 8th March 2019, the second time he Will speak on the strike, in the text of his address to the people of Kogi State on the eve of the State’s House of Assembly election.
“To us, it is the peak of insensitivity and man’s psychological oppression and inhumanity to man when you owe somebody his legitimate due and you keep asking the person to tow a particular path before you will pay him! This, to us, is unacceptable especially when you know fully well that the path you have asked for is illegal and unknown to law. When you are the one that constituted the Judicial Service Commission that is saddled with the responsibility of constantly verifying the composition of the judiciary workers which it is doing periodically, how do you turn around to usurp that power from them?
“If I may ask, if it is not a deliberate and calculated design to punish the judiciary and it’s workers without provocation, when has it become the responsibility of the state’s House of Assembly to intervene in industrial matters? When we were agitating for N30,000 minimum wage or when ASUU declared strike did the Federal Government resort to the National Assembly or it constituted negotiation teams on the two occasions? That’s sincerity of purpose if I may say. But in our own case, and after owing us for eight months and aware that our members are dying of hunger and sickness and cannot pay school fees and house rents, the governor said, just to further torture us mentally, that our salaries are in the bank and if we want it, we must first obey his command. You know what it means if you put some maize in a cocked but transparent bottle and you ask the chicken to feed from it? That’s exactly what he means.
“We are yet to know how our request for unpaid salaries amounts to politicization nor how our insistence on respect for the rule of law and separation of powers translates to “politicization of institution” except there’s something else we don’t know that we’re suffering from” he said.
He also quoted the Kogi State governor saying: His Excellency also said “The refusal of the leadership of the Kogi State Judiciary to forward their staff payroll for the Pay Parade with the collusion of JUSUN leaders is well documented.”
On our part, we’re in no collusion with anbody but we’re always prepared to abide by any rules or working conditions recommended or stipulated by the Judicial Service Commission of Kogi State which members were appointed by the governor. This is in line with the principles guiding the operations of the Federal Judicial Service Commission and the Legislative Service Commission. Asking for the take-over of our salary payment by agents of the executive connotes a dangerous motive that targets the emasculation of the judiciary which is detrimental to the fearless administration of justice in Kogi State” he said.
Comrade Waniko also maintained that rather than petitioning the National Judicial Council against the Hon. Chief Judge as disclosed by the governor, he would have been better off complying with the provisions of the constitution by releasing the funds of the judiciary to the heads of courts and allowing the Auditor-General of the state to audit the accounts of the judiciary when it is due.
“No law of this country lays any condition precedent to such release. It is therefore an illegality for the government to act contrary to the rule of law by keeping the funds accruing to the judiciary in the bank.
“So, as we have buried the deceased and are still mourning, we plead that if truly, “monies amounting to several months salaries due to Kogi State Civil Servants working in the Judiciary are sitting in the banks” as said by His Excellency, he should kindly order the payment of judiciary subventions to avoid further agonies” the JUSUN Chairman pleaded.
Kenyan Court proposes lowering of sex ‘consent age’ to 16
Three senior judges in Kenya have proposed lowering the age of sexual consent to 16 years from the current 18 years, The Standard reports.
The paper says the three Court of Appeal judges are opposing lengthy jail terms imposed on young men for “sleeping with teens who were willing to be and appeared to be adults”.
The judges cited a case where they reversed a jail term of 15 years imposed on a man for making a 17-year-old girl pregnant, says the newspaper.
The judges also said underage girls and boys often engage in sexual relations “with their eyes fully open”, reports the paper.
“Our prisons are teeming with young men serving lengthy sentences for having had sexual intercourse with adolescent girls whose consent has been held to be immaterial because they were under 18 years”, the judges are quoted as saying.
Whats your opinion ?
— The Standard Digital (@StandardKenya) March 26, 2019
#PrayForMozambique: Over 1.8m People affected by Cyclone Idai – UN
The UN humanitarian agency, Ocha, says more than 1.8 million people in Mozambique have been affected by Cyclone Idai and some of them are in critical life threatening situations.
Aid agencies are warning that thousands of survivors have yet to receive any help, 12 days after it made landfall in the country.
Mozambique’s Minister of Land and Environment, Celso Correia says efforts are being made to get food, shelter, water and medicine to people sheltering on higher ground.
He said the rescue need was coming down as the water receded but warned the area would take years to recover.
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