Justice Walter Onnoghen may be the first Chief Justice of Nigeria to go to jail from office, as the Federal Government is set to arraign him on charges of non-declaration of assets before the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja on Monday.
Justice Onnoghen has also been asked to resign from office.
This was confirmed by the headquarters of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, in Abuja on Saturday.
A statement signed by the Head, Press & Public Relations at CCT, Mr. Ibraheem Al-Hassan, said the three-man panel of the tribunal led by Danladi Umar, fixed Monday for the arraignment of Nigeria’s number one judge, following an application by the Code of Conduct Bureau for leave to commence the case.
According to him, the application was filed on Friday and summons for the Monday’s proceedings had been served on the CJN.
All the six counts preferred against the CJN are said to be bordering on non-declaration of assets.
CCT’s statement reads in part: “The Code of Conduct Tribunal has scheduled Monday, January 14, 2019 for the commencement of trial against current Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon Justce Onnoghen Nkanu Walter Samuel for alleged non-declaration of assets.
“This was consequent to an application filed by the Code of Conduct Bureau to the CCT Chairman yesterday (Friday) for the trial to commence against the Chief Justice of Nigeria on six charges.
“However, service of summons has been effected to the defendant.
“The three-man panel led by Justice Danladi Y. Umar, will commence the trial on Monday, January 14, 2019 at its courtroom, situated at the headquarter, along Jabi Daki biyu, Saloman Lar way, Abuja, at 10:00am.
“The application was filed yesterday by the operatives of CCB, dated January 11, 2019 and signed by Musa Ibrahim Usman (Esq) and Fatima Danjuma Ali (Esq), containing six charges all bordering on non-declaration of assets.”
Ripples Nigeria gathered that the case is built on a petition filed by a civil society group, Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative.
The petition dated January 7, 2019, accuses Mr Onnoghen of managing several accounts through which he has been making transfers of local and foreign currencies in “a manner inconsistent with financial accuracy.” The petition was signed by the group’s executive secretary, Denis Aghanya.
There are feelers that the impending arraignment of Justice Onnoghen may not be unconnected with the CJN’s non cooperative attitude towards the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, and thinking within the President’s circle that the CJN may not be a willing ally as the 2019 general elections draw near.
It would be recalled that President Buhari had foot dragged before sending the name of the CJN to the Senate for confirmation as CJN, after naming him in acting capacity after the retirement of the former occupant of the office.