These are, indeed, troubling times for Justice Walter Onnoghen, Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), as the Federal Government on Wednesday ordered the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to immediately freeze five bank accounts belonging to him.
The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration gave the restriction order on the accounts pending the determination of the six-count criminal charge it entered against the CJN at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, in Abuja.
The directive dated January 14, 2019 emanated from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, and was contained in a memo with Ref. No. HAGF/2019/E06/Vol.01.
According to Malami, the action against Onnoghen is pursuant to the Presidential Executive Order 6 of 2018.
Malami’s memo against the CJN was titled “Re: Request For Freezing of Bank Accounts Subject To Investigation And Prosecution Pursuant To Presidential Executive Order 6 Of 5th July 2018 On The Preservation Of Assets Connected With Corruption”.
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It read: “I am directed by Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Honorable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to request that you, pursuant to the Presidential Executive Order 6 of 2018, forthwith restrict normal banking operations on certain accounts belonging to Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen pending final determination of the case against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT/ABJ/1/19, Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Hon. Justice Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel).
“These accounts are as follows: (a) Account No. 5001062686 (Euro) Standard Chartered Bank) (SCB)
(b) Account No. 5001062679 (Pound Sterling) (SCB)
(c)Account No. 0001062650 (Dollar) (SCB)
(d)Account No. 0001062667 (Naira) (SCB), and
(e) Account No. 5000162693 (Naira).
“Please accept the assurances of the esteem of the honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice”.
The letter was signed by Mr. Abiodun Aikomo.
Onnoghen’s travails have dominated public discourse since his botched appearance at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), with a section of the populace alleging that his planned trial was politically motivated given the unprecedented speed of prosecution which is coming barely two months to the general elections.
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