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Shame On Media Trial! Nigerians React As FG Closes Asset Declaration Against Justice Onnoghen

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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.”

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