The prosecution counsel has closed the case against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The case against the CJN was closed after calling three witnesses to the stand, although the Federal Government had listed six witnesses, its counsel, Aliyu Umar announced that the government has closed its case.
Two witnesses a former Director at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the banker to Justice Onnoghen testified before the tribunal in favour of the Federal Government in addition to the first prosecution witness who testified on Monday, bringing the witnesses to three.
The lead prosecution counsel said though they initially listed six witnesses for the trial, however, it would not be calling on the remaining three, adding that he is offering them to the defence for cross-examination if they so wished.
However, counsel to the CJN, Mr Adegboyega Awomolo, said the defence does not need the witnesses and the prosecution can go ahead to close its case if it is done.
Awomolo also informed the tribunal of its intention to invoke section 303 of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act, 2015 to enter a no-case submission.
He pleaded with the tribunal to allow him prepare a written address and urged the chairman to order the registry to make a record of proceedings available to him to guide him in the written address.
The prosecution did not object to the application, prompting the tribunal chairman, Mr Danladi Umar to make an order on the registry to avail parties in the matter with the record of proceedings.
He also ordered that the record must be made available to the parties on Monday and adjourned hearing in the no case submission to March 29.
Earlier on the CJN’s account officer in her evidence told the tribunal that justice Onnoghen maintains 5 different accounts with her bank in Abuja.
According to her, two of the accounts are naira accounts, one saving and the other current, while the remaining three in pounds, dollars and euro.
The witness said she met the defendant once in 2015 as a relationship manager and would not know if the accounts had been active since they were opened in 2009.
Under cross-examination by the CJN Onnoghen’s lawyer, Miss Okagbue said that Onnoghen never made any foreign transfer from the accounts.
The witness, however, admitted that Onnoghen had a facility of $500,000 as at January 2019 with the bank secured by his investment in bonds and other investment.
She further admitted that Justice Onnoghen as a disciplined account holder was encouraged by the bank to invest in profit yielding investment and that interest in the investment are regularly credited to his account, adding that the bank made an investment on his behalf from his account.
Earlier, the second prosecution witness, Awal Yakassai, under cross-examination admitted that two assets declaration forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau, by Onnoghen, three years ago have till date not been verified.
He also told the tribunal that contrary to the allegations that the CJN owned fifty-five houses, he has only five houses one of which was sold to him by the Federal Government.
Justice Onnoghen is being prosecuted by the Federal Government on a six-count charge bordering on alleged failure to disclose some of his assets in his asset declaration forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau.
Here are some comments gathered as seen on Twitter:
@Chxta “The Onnoghen case (FG has rested its case), lays bare the dangers, and madness, of media trials. But then, these people don’t care. Their (short term) goal has been achieved. We’ll be left to pick the pieces up of the desecration of our third arm of government eventually.”
@YoungOtutu “With Justice #Onnoghen victory over the federal government and his sure reinstatement any moment from now. I want to use this medium to congratulate the incoming president of Nigeria Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.We are sure to coast to victory at the tribunals.”
@SamEba_ “For all those who labelled Onnoghen a criminal, may disgrace never depart from them.”
@Kcnaija “They just wanted the man out to manipulate election tribunal. Rogues claiming integrity!
@CeoNigeria “This Onnoghen case is highly pathetic. Imagine after the public ridicule, FG suddenly found nothing and closed the case. Thank God I resigned from political Twitter. Discussing Nigerian politics is emotionally draining! What’s for dinner please?
@Musa_BM “As a Buharist, i’m saddened by the Onnoghen’s case which was closed. He was embarrassed and ridiculed on something that was not properly investigated and checked. Clarity of perspective should always be considered when dealing with delicate issues.”
@Ummita71 “Onnoghen should resign as for me, since God has vindicated him, he should protest the ill treatment melted at him. He doesn’t deserve to be treated like that, a highly respected man, I knew there was much to his suspension.”
@beulahland17 “What’s going on here, FG closes case doesn’t mean the case is over or the man is innocent, it simply means it’s time for defense to open its case, these are legal terms.”
@Ogomkpuma “Almighty God, please when you want to punish Nigeria for the humiliation of CJN Onnoghen please remember us that spoke against his media trial but were dismissed and called criminals by APC Hypocrites. Lord have mercy.”
@Jeremiah_James “The case of Onnoghen is really painful because some persons used a sitting CJN to score cheap political points. The guts it took. I just pray he’s cleared and reinstated and to think we have a SAN as VP. Real shame.”
Ex-Gov. Abubakar Spent N2.3bn To Buy Burial Materials, Bauchi Governor Alleges
As the blame game continues in Bauchi State, Governor Bala Mohammed has alleged that his predecessor, Mohammed Abubakar spent a whopping sum of N2.3 billion to buy materials for burying dead bodies in the state.
The governor who spoke through his spokesperson, Dr. Ladan Salihu, in an interview with newsmen in Bauchi over the weekend, alleged that the said funds were spent between January and May 2019.
Ladan Salihu explained that over N900 million of the money was spent in buying white cloth materials used for wrapping dead bodies while over N1.4 billion was used to buy the wood for lacing the graves for the burial.
According to him, the government discovered various issues of corruption, venality, daylight robbery of the commonwealth of Bauchi State where billions of Naira were syphoned illegally.
The spokesperson further alleged that: “These monies which ought to have been appropriated by the Assembly before expenditure, all of a sudden emanated from our treasury books.
How could you imagine that a state government, within five months that is between January and May, 2019, spent well over N2.3 billion on funeral materials, the clothes that are used in wrapping dead bodies and the woods that you lace the graveyards with?
“The immediate past government spent N2.3 billion, that government did not spend a quarter of that amount in our own hospitals and clinics. They have the temerity to want to put up a show of shame,” he lamented.
When asked if the government has any proof to substantiate its claim, he said that there is no iota of doubt on the matter saying that there are documental evidence to prove it.
“All these are captured in the report of the Transition Committee and these were gathered from documents and vouchers and payments made from our treasury books. There is the Freedom of Information law, go there and find out for yourself from those documents.
“We are talking about the principle behind it. You have bought these materials for funerals in graveyards, what have you done to the Christian cemetery? But we are saying that it is wrong completely, it is not the duty of government to buy burial materials for anybody.
“It is the responsibility of the family, the community and people of goodwill. It has never existed in our history books that the government bought those materials in the first place.
“So, you know that these things were bought for a reason, you would not see the materials, because they have disappeared into or out of ballot boxes,” he alleged.
Ladan Salihu further vowed that: “Government will take very, very stern measures, we will recover every kobo that has been looted or stolen by the immediate past administration and in fact, the administration before it. Where it is established that there is a clear case of misappropriation or outright stealing of public funds. It is an obligation, you don’t allow criminality to run roughshod on the rest of us because these are public funds.
“We must take steps, there’s no factor of fear or favour or ill will, it is just the way the business of government must be conducted. We will take every measure, we use every institution and go after everyone that has stolen Bauchi State’s money.
“We will pursue this case in the relevant institutions of recovery whether it is EFCC, ICPC, the constitution of a Special Recovery Mechanism within the state, I can assure you, we will pursue these issues vigorously, rigorously and without let,” he added.
When our correspondent contacted the Special Adviser to the former Governor Abubakar on Media and Strategy, Ali M. Ali, on phone, he simply said, “that is very ridiculous, I cannot make further comments on the issue because I am not aware of such allegation.
“I’ve not heard of anything like that, so I will speak on it when I make my findings but this is laughable. I will get back to you on that when I have done my findings from my principal,” he added.
Presidents of Rwanda, Senegal And DRC To Speak At The Largest Annual Gathering Of African Entrepreneurs
The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Africa’s champion of entrepreneurship, has announced the line-up of speakers and activities for the 5th Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum — the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurs and the African entrepreneurship ecosystem.
For the Forum’s Presidential Dialogue, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), H.E Félix Tshisekedi will join previously announced President of Rwanda, H.E Paul Kagame and President of Senegal, H.E Macky Sall, in an interactive, charged plenary session that opens Day 2 of the Forum. The Presidential Dialogue will be moderated by TEF Founder, Tony O. Elumelu, CON, and will feature all three presidents engaging directly with an audience of 5,000, comprising of entrepreneurs, policymakers, investors and business leaders, with thousands of people interacting live online, through TEFConnect.
The Forum presents the largest single annual opportunity for entrepreneurs and policy makers to interact directly and all sessions at the Forum have private sector and public sector leaders anchor panel discussions, masterclasses, and a dynamic pitching competition that will engage an audience of start-up entrepreneurs, development institutions, and policymakers.
The speakers expected for this year’s Forum include Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of African Export-Import (AFREXIMBANK); Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of African Development Bank (AFDB); Dr. Awele Elumelu, Trustee, Tony Elumelu Foundation and Founder, Avon Medical; Kennedy Uzoka, Group CEO, UBA Group Plc; Mrs. Djene Kaba Conde, First Lady, Guinea; amongst other notable global business leaders.
Every year, the Tony Elumelu Foundation hosts the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs, policymakers and business leaders in one location. This year’s Forum, themed “Empowering African Entrepreneurs”, will take place at the iconic Transcorp Hilton Hotel, in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja. The Forum will also include the UBA Marketplace, where UBA, Africa’s global bank, brings together businesses from across the continent.
At the 2018 forum, TEFConnect, the largest digital platform for African entrepreneurs was launched to connect entrepreneurs to the opportunities they need for business success. TEFConnect will take centre stage at this year’s Forum as global debates move to technology as a key driver of economic development in Africa.
For more information: https://www.tonyelumelufoundation.org/forum2019
Jim Ovia Advocates For Disruptive Technology To Scale Businesses In Africa
According to Zenith Bank Founder/Chairman, Jim Ovia, businesses stand a chance to triple growth rate and earnings through innovation and technology.
The options are to “innovate and transform or die”, he said. It is the technology age and businesses operating out of Africa should continually adopt technology to experience exponential scale in their business development.
He made this statement while chairing the launch of the PwC Experience Centre. Mr. Ovia added that the Experience Centre is a forward-thinking way to disrupt the over $1tn consultancy service industry yet to be digitized.
Therefore, the Experience Centre is an effective move towards expanding PwC’s innovative solution services across West Africa.