The Federal Government has been revealed to have preempted the outcome of investigation into a petition against the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, as charges were filed against him before the conclusion of investigation.
This much was admitted to by FG’s Prosecution Witness 1, James Akpala, a Senior Investigative Officer at the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB.
Akpala informed the tribunal in his Evidence-In-Chief, that the petition was handed to his team for investigation by his superior at the CCB, Mr. Samuel Madojemu, on January 9.
“The petition was authored by Chief Dennis Aghanya of the Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative, alleging breach of Code of Conduct for Public Officers, including non-declaration of assets and false declaration of assets, against the Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, GCON, the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“Thereafter, the team wrote to the Federal Political Officers Unit (of the Bureau), Asokoro, requesting the defendant’s asset declarations received from 2000 to 2009.
“The department responded. The two asset declaration forms were examined and filed in the case file”, the witness stated.
During cross examination by Onnoghen’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo. Akpala admitted that he was not aware that the CCB had a central register where asset declaration forms submitted to it by public officers are kept.
He also claimed not to have any idea of the number of asset declaration forms the Bureau issued from 1993 to 2019, adding however that the constitution mandated every public officer to go to the nearest office of the CCB to declare their assets.
The witness said further: “I have never worked in the department where asset declaration forms are issued to public officers.
“I have never worked in the department where the forms are verified”.According to the witness, the petition against Onnoghen was delivered to the CCB on January 9 and forwarded to his team on January 10.
“We requested for records of his accounts from the bank on January 11”.
Akpala however said he could not answer the question asked him regarding the filing of the case on January 10, with the list of witnesses.After seeing a copy of the charge shown him by Onnoghen’s lawyer, Akpala said: “As at January 10, we had not taken the statement of the defendant. We concluded our assignment on January 11”.
Awomolo further asked him: “So Mr. Akpala, will I be correct to say that within 24 hours that the petition was received, investigation was concluded and an order secured from the tribunal to prefer charges against the defendant?”.
The witness replied: “Yes that is correct. We requested for documents and they were forwarded to us, which we examined. Based on examination we conducted on the documents, the charge was filed”.Awomolo asked again: “When you obtained statement of the defendant at the Supreme Court, around 1pm on January 11, you did not tell him that a six-count charge had already been filed against him?”The witness said: “My Lord, I am an investigator, I do not work in the legal department.
“At the time the defendant recorded his statement around 12:30pm, the team had no idea that the charge had been filed.
“At about 2pm when we got to the office, we had not written our report then.
“We finished our report at about quarter to 3pm. The report was addressed to the Deputy Director Intelligence, Investigation and Monitoring”.
On the suggestion that FG already secured leave of the tribunal and preferred charges against Onnoghen before the conclusion of their report, the witness said: “My lord I cannot answer this question.
“All I know is that we filed our report after we obtained statement of the defendant. We were not aware that the charge was already filed”.
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