As the Code of Conduct Tribunal has now convicted Walter Onnoghen, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, a long and controversial episode in Nigeria’s judiciary may have finally come to an end.
With Onnoghen’s fate sealed, here is the complete timeline of his drama-filled fall from grace.
*March 2017: Walter Onnoghen became the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
*January 10, 2019: The Nigerian Government, through the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), dragged Onnoghen to Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on charges bothering on asset declaration offences.
The development came following a petition by a group, the Anti-corruption and Research based Data Initiative, accusing him of financial crimes and breaches of the CCB requirements.
*January 14, 2019: CCT commenced trial of Onnoghen’s alleged corruption at the premises of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Jabi, Abuja with Onnoghen absent.
*January 22, 2019: Justice Onnoghen again failed to appear before the CCT to answer for his alleged corruption.
*On January 28, 2019: CCT adjourned indefinitely the trial of Onnoghen pending the outcome of the ruling of the Court of Appeal.
*February 4, 2019: The CCT resumed trial of Onnoghen but again adjourned the matter of to February 13, 2019, following an application made by the Defence Counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN).
*February 13, 2019: The CCT issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Justice Walter Onnoghen, over his continuous failure to submit himself for trial.
*February 15, 2019: Justice Onnoghen finally appeared before the CCT to answer for his alleged failure to declare his assets. He was granted bail.
*March 11, 2019: Onnoghen told the CCT that it has no jurisdiction to proceed with the six count charge brought against him by the Federal Government. He said as a serving judicial officer, it was the National Judicial Council (NJC) that was vested with powers to entertain any misconduct against him.
*March 12, 2019: Onnoghen trial was suspended and adjourned till March 18, 2019 after the former CJN lawyer, Awomolo told the tribunal that he was suffering from tooth-ache.
*March 17, 2019: EFCC raided Onnoghen’s farm, taking custody of some vital documents
*March 18, 2019: Onnoghen returns to trial after toothache problems. The prosecution this day tended exhibits against Onnoghen, while Onnoghen claimed his asset declaration forms were tampered with.
*March 21, 2019: A witness from the CCB said Onnoghen’s asset forms haven’t been verified since 2016. The federal government closed case against Onnoghen
*March 29, 2019: CCT dismissed a no-case application brought before it by Onnoghen.
*April 1, 2019: Onnoghen opened defence at CCT.
*April 3, 2019: Onnoghen closed defence at CCT. EFCC detailed criminal allegations against Onnoghen before the NJC. Onnoghen said he never took bribe. NJC recommended Onnoghen for retirement
*April 4, 2019: Onnoghen reportedly resigned as CJN
*April 15, 2019: CCT fixed the date for final judgment in the alleged non-declaration of assets suit against Onnoghen.
*April 18, 2019: CCT convicted Onnoghen, asked government to take over his assets, and held he must not hold public office for 10 years.
By Ebere Ndukwu …
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